Causes of Watery Eyes in Adults
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We usually associate tears with crying or yawning, but there are many other reasons for watery eyes in adults.
For example, some people have poor tear drainage, or blocked tear ducts, while others experience irritation due to environmental factors, such as dust, pollen, bacteria or even cold weather.
In fact, it is very common for individuals to experience watery eyes during the winter–especially in very cold or windy environments.
Why Your Eyes Get Watery in the Cold
James Auran, M.D., chief of ophthalmology at New York’s Harlem Hospital Center, said in an article for The Greatist, that “Your eyes need to stay lubricated to see, which doesn’t go well with cold, dry winter air. The wind and lack of moisture leads your eyes to tear up, trying to keep themselves at max visibility and minimum discomfort.”
In other words, your cornea, or the tissue that covers the front of your eye, is very sensitive. When severe wind or cold wind irritates it, your eyes begin to water to help lubricate the dry surface.
This scenario might be common for you depending on where you live, but you should make efforts to avoid cold wind on your eyes in order to prevent damage.
Eye care professionals, including Auran, recommend glasses, goggles and protective eyewear for individuals who spend large amounts of time outside in the elements.
When to See Your Eye Care Professional
In severe cases, your cornea can freeze or sustain significant damage in extremely cold weather. If you experience:
- Extreme eye pain
- Loss of vision or blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Eyelid stiffness or twitching
Book an appointment with your eye care professional right away.
Other Causes for Watery Eyes
A common cause for watery eyes in adults is irritation. Irritation can be caused by a foreign body entering the eye, such as a speck of dust or an eyelash, or irritation can be caused by other allergens such as pollen or chemicals.
Sometimes, very dry air can cause eyes to water. People with chronically dry eyes can also experience excessive watering because their eyes are constantly trying to lubricate the dryness.
When tear ducts become blocked, your eyes do not drain your eye lubrication properly, and this results in watery eyes. Similarly, people who have narrow tear ducts, or displaced tear ducts will experience the same issues.
What to Do If You Have Excessively Watery Eyes for an Extended Period of Time
If you have excessively watery eyes, and have cleared your eyes of irritants, seek the help of a eye care professional. You may have a duct that needs treatment, or you may have sustained damage to your cornea, a problem that can cause infection if not treated quickly.
Luckily, whatever the cause for your watery eyes, in most cases, treatments work quickly, allowing individuals to regain clear, tear-free vision.
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