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How to stop watery eyes or teary eyes

illustration of watery eyes

Watery eyes are usually temporary and can be treated with eye drops or by giving your eyes a break from digital devices, but constant watering could be a sign of an underlying condition.

The most common causes for watery eyes include allergies, digital eye strain, old or torn contact lenses, and debris (such as a loose eyelash). Believe it or not, your eyes could be watering so much because they’re actually dry and need moisture.

If your eyes are still watering after taking these measures, you may have a more serious eye condition, so consult with your eye doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

What are the common causes of watery eyes?

There are many reasons your eyes could be watering more than usual. 

Allergies: Seasonal allergies can make your eyes itchy, causing your eyes to produce more lubrication to soothe the irritation. Eye drops and antihistamines can help.

Conjunctivitis: Pink eye is another reason your eyes could be watering more than usual. However, in the case of conjunctivitis, your eyes are actually emitting a thick discharge. If your eyes are watery but your “tears” are thicker than usual or have a yellow tinge, consult with your eye doctor right away for treatment.

Dry eye syndrome: How can dry eyes cause teary eyes? Healthy lacrimal glands use three ingredients to keep your eyes moist: water, mucus and oil. When your eyes are dry due to lacrimal gland issues, then your eyes will flush water (only) into your eyes to wet them, but without the mucus and oil, the moisture won’t stay. Medicated eye drops can help in this case.

Other causes for excessive watery eyes, according to Wills Eye Hospital, include:

What is a natural treatment for teary eyes?

If your eyes are watering from allergies, eye strain or fatigue, you can press a cold spoon to your closed eyelids to relax your strained capillaries or use a warm compress to soften your meibum (the oily substance that prevents evaporation of your eyes’ tear film).

A warm compress also can help naturally remove a stye, if that’s your root issue.

Of course, you can also try to steer clear of your allergy trigger, take a nap, meditate with your eyes closed and set timers during your screen time to remind you to look away every once in a while.

If dry eyes are causing excess tears, you can try changing your diet.

Omega-3s, flaxseed oil and drinking more water can naturally moisten your eyes, so they can stop doing more work than necessary. For general eye health, you can also consume more vitamin A and beta-carotene.

You can also make lifestyle changes to keep your eyes from drying out and overproducing tears:

  • Try wearing glasses instead of contacts for a while. (Wearing contacts makes you blink less often, which can dry out your eyes.)

  • Wear wrap-around safety glasses or sunglasses to protect your eyes from allergens or debris. 

  • More thoroughly remove your eye makeup before going to sleep at night. This may mean you’ll have to vary your nighttime routine. 

SEE RELATED: Dry eye syndrome: 12 ways to get relief

What is the best treatment for watery eyes?

An antihistamine is the best medicine for allergy-related teary eyes. Antibiotic eye drops work great for pink eye. 

If your eyes are watering due to an underlying eye condition or disease, an optometrist or ophthalmologist will prescribe medicated eye drops or other treatment.

For dry eye syndrome relief, an eye specialist may prescribe medicated eye drops or steroid drops.

For glaucoma-related teary eyes, the Glaucoma Research Foundation says your eye doctor likely will prescribe different types of eye drops.

Which eye drops or treatments are right for your watery eyes? Consult with your eye doctor.

When to see an eye doctor about teary eyes

If you have taken allergy medicine, changed your contacts, inspected your eyes for debris (and removed it), used eye drops and taken a break from screen time, and your eyes are still watering excessively, then it’s time to see your eye doctor.

Your teary eyes could be an indication that you have a more serious condition, like conjunctivitis, dry eye syndrome or wet macular degeneration.

If you’re exhibiting symptoms in addition to watery eyes and you suspect you may have an eye condition or eye disease, contact your eye doctor immediately.

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