Watery eyes can be a pesky annoyance, from the watery feeling to the constant wiping. But what causes watery eyes? Common causes range from allergies and dry eyes to eye infections and irritations like dust and smoke. Understanding what is causing watery eyes can make all the difference in finding the right treatment and relief.
This article will help you get to the root of your watery eyes and find out how to treat this symptom most effectively.
What Causes Watery Eyes?
Tearing up of the eyes can happen for several reasons, most of which are harmless. As stated earlier, common causes can include allergies, dry eyes, foreign objects, and infections, among other things. Below, we go more into detail about some of the most common causes of watery eyes.
Allergies can trigger several uncomfortable symptoms in and around your eyes because they cause an overreaction of the body’s immune system to certain substances like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and more. When the eyes come into contact with these substances, they release histamine, a chemical that triggers inflammation and results in several symptoms, including watery eyes.
You can experience dry eyes when your body fails to produce enough tears due to a poor balance between mucus, oils, and water or if the tears dry up too fast. Some factors contributing to dry eyes are age, medical conditions like diabetes, and side effects of certain medications. Dry eyes often cause watery eyes as the body’s natural response is to lubricate the eye's surface.
Foreign Objects & Irritants
A foreign object or irritant such as hair spray, makeup, and perfume can make your eyes watery. When dust, smoke, fumes, and other particles enter your eyes, they may become red and watery in response. This type of watery eye usually goes away shortly after removing the object or irritant.
Eye Infections & Injuries
Your eyes can become watery due to infections caused by bacteria and viruses, which can affect the tear glands in your eyes. Eye infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye) may cause excessive tearing and other symptoms such as redness and itching. The tear glands become overactive and produce too many tears.
Objects like contact lenses, sand, and dirt can scratch the cornea of your eye, resulting in corneal abrasions. As a result, your eyes may tear up, become red, hurt, or be more sensitive to bright light.
Your eyelids act as windshield wipers, spreading tears across your eyes every time you blink to sweep away any excess moisture. Sometimes, the eyelids can have problems like entropion, where they curve inward and rub against your eyes, or ectropion, where they sag outside, making it difficult to wipe the entire eye every time you blink. Both issues can cause your eyes to become watery because the tears can’t be spread across the eyes properly.
Just like your eyebrows’ hair can grow at a weird angle, your eyelashes can also curl inside and rub against your eyes, a condition known as trichiasis. This can happen after injuries, infections, or other problems. The weird-growing hair will irritate your eyes, causing them to tear up.
Blocked Tear Ducts
Tears coming from your tear glands should spread across your eyeballs before draining into the ducts in the corners of your eyes. If the ducts are clogged, the tears will build up, making the eyes teary. This can happen due to aging, injuries, and infections.
How Do Allergies Cause Watery Eyes?
Allergies cause watery eyes when the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless substance, such as pollen or pet dander, as an invader. When you come into contact with these allergens, the immune system will release antibodies and other chemicals, like histamines, to fight off the invader.
The histamines cause the blood vessels in your eyes to swell and leak fluid, resulting in watery eyes. Teary eyes are also due to the inflammation of the tissues and glands around your eyes, which stimulates excessive tear production.
Your body is trying to flush out the allergens, making your eyes watery. You may also suffer from other symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing.
Symptoms of Watery Eyes
While different causes of watery eyes can have different symptoms, there are some general ones you should look out for. These include:
- Excessive tearing that is not related to crying
- Redness around the eye area
- Swelling or puffiness of the eyelids
- Discomfort or irritation in the eyes
- Itching or burning sensation in the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Watery discharge that is either clear, yellow, or green
- Blurry vision
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's essential to speak with your doctor to find out the cause and determine the best course of treatment.
How to Treat Watery Eyes From Allergies
Fortunately, you can do a few things to treat watery eyes caused by allergies. These include:
- A cold compress: Applying a cool cloth or an ice pack to your eyelids for a few minutes can reduce inflammation and discomfort, reducing watery eyes.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: You can purchase antihistamines, decongestants, and other allergy medications at your local pharmacy or online. These medications temporarily reduce your eyes' inflammation and relieve watery eyes due to allergies.
- Eye drops: Eye drops are available to soothe and relieve watery eyes due to allergies. They have a mild anti-inflammatory effect and can provide short-term relief for eye irritation caused by allergens.
- Use an air purifier: Airborne allergens, such as dust and pollen, can trigger watery eyes due to allergies. Using an air purifier in your home can help reduce the number of allergens in the air and decrease your symptoms.
- Use a humidifier: Dry air can exacerbate watery eyes due to allergies. Using a humidifier in your home can help reduce the dryness in the air and provide relief from watery eyes due to allergies.
- Avoid triggers: Knowing what triggers your allergies is key to avoiding watery eyes due to allergies. If you know certain scents, environments, or activities cause a reaction, it’s best to avoid them as much as possible.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, you can manage watery eyes due to allergies with OTC medications and home remedies. However, if the symptoms do not respond to treatment or worsen, it’s essential to see a doctor as soon as possible. Also, consult your doctor if:
- Your eyes are painful
- You can't see clearly, making it difficult to do everyday tasks
- Your eyes are producing a thick yellowish discharge
- You have a lump in your eyes, or your eyes are swelling
- You have an unusual sensitivity to bright light
- You experience extreme fatigue or headaches
Your doctor will be able to diagnose the cause of your watery eyes and provide the proper treatment to help you find relief.
Seeing an allergy doctor will also help you identify precisely what you are allergic to and help you find a treatment plan that will provide long-term relief.
If you have watery eyes from allergies, your doctor may suggest taking an allergy test to help determine the cause:
Skin prick test
A skin prick test is an outdated method for diagnosing allergies, requiring you to visit your doctor's office and undergo uncomfortable skin pricking. During this test, a doctor will prick your skin with a tiny needle and inject small amounts of allergen extracts. If you have an allergy to a given substance, the skin around the prick will become itchy, red, or swollen, showing that you're allergic to that substance.
At-Home Allergy Test
The at-home allergy test from Wyndly is an easy and convenient way to diagnose allergies in the comfort of your home. You can complete the test by following these simple steps:
- Place an online request for the CLIA-certified test kit from Wyndly and have it delivered to your home.
- Take a finger-prick test and send the sample back to Wyndly.
- Receive your allergy profile and a personalized treatment plan to fix your allergies.
You can manage your allergy symptoms, including watery eyes, through various treatments and remedies. The best ones include:
If you are prone to watery eyes due to allergies, you should limit your exposure to potential triggers. Some measures that can minimize exposure include keeping windows closed during the allergy season, staying indoors when the pollen count is high, and ensuring your home is clean. Showering frequently and washing your clothes and bedding regularly to remove pollen can also help.
OTC medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and eye drops, are usually the first line of defense against allergies. Antihistamines inhibit the release of histamine and temporarily block the body’s response to allergens, while eye drops can reduce irritation by flushing out the allergen.
Sublingual immunotherapy is the best treatment for long-term relief. Sublingual immunotherapy involves exposing your body to small doses of the allergens you’re allergic to. Over time, your immune system becomes desensitized and stops reacting to the allergy triggers. The treatment results in lifelong changes to your immune system so that it no longer reacts to the allergen.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
If watery eyes from allergies are getting in the way of your daily activities, it’s time to start working with our allergy doctors at Wyndly. The doctors will identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized home-treatment plan so you can live free from allergies.
Take our online allergy assessment to see if Wyndly is right for you!