Dry Eyes and Watery Eyes
Dry eyes and watery eyes are very common eye problems that oddly enough, are very related. The majority of watery eyes are caused by dryness. This may sound strange, but it’s true.
The eye’s tear chemistry is a very intricate and delicate balance of three component layers.
- Mucous Layer
- Aqueous (watery) Layer
- Lipid (oily) Layer
Different glands in the eyelid work in concert to secrete these three elements that combine to form the tear film. The tear film keeps our eyes moist and free of abrasive matter. If the balance of the tear chemistry is upset, the entire tear film fails to properly lubricate the eye. This causes our eyes to become dry and irritable. Typically, “dry eye” is not caused by a lack of tears, but rather indicates an imbalance of the three tear film components.
Tears belong to one of two main categories, basic and reflex.
- Basic tears are the everyday, moistening, lubricating tears.
- Reflex tears are the tears caused by emotional crying or by smelling an onion, for example.
If you lack basic tear production, your eye will become prone to chronic irritation. This irritation will, in turn, cause you to produce reflex tears. Reflex tears are of a more watery consistency than basic tears, so they will not properly lubricate the eye. This cycle results in excessively watery eyes. As we all grow older our body’s production of basic tears decreases. Watery eyes in patients over 60 is, in fact, a sign of “dry eye”.
The most common treatment for “dry eye” is the application of artificial tear eye drops. Artificial tear solutions lubricate and soothe the eye. Artificial tears are available over-the-counter without a prescription and can be used safely as much or as little as you may need.
Some of the most common brands of artificial tear eye drops are:
- Tears Naturale
- Bausch & Lomb Moisture Drops
- Generic Tears
For thicker artificial tear solutions, look and ask for Celluvisc or Bion Tears.
Epiphora- Obstructed tear duct
Excessively watery eyes can be caused by an obstructed tear duct. The tear duct drains excess tears from the eye into the nose. If this tube is partially closed or obstructed, excess tears will run down one’s face, instead of properly draining into the nose. This condition is most common in children.
Tear duct problems:
The flow of tears across the eye and into the tear duct is an intricate part of your eye health. Several things can go wrong with the tear duct in infants. Many times the congenital tear duct problem can fix itself over time. However, some tear duct problems require intervention by our lid specialist.
Tear duct obstructions
Can be treated safely with antibiotics, warm compresses, and lid massage. Complete or recurrent tear duct obstructions sometimes require a probe and irrigation through the tear duct. At other times, Gene Johnson, M.D. will need to insert tubes into the tear ducts until the tear duct system is complete in its development.
Closing a tear duct If you suffer from severe “dry eye” and frequent use of artificial tears does not help, we sometimes must close the tear drainage ducts. This closure creates a reservoir of tears on the eye and improves symptoms such as dryness or grittiness.
To determine if punctal occlusion is best for you, see one of the eye doctors at the Parschauer Eye Center. A temporary plug is inserted into the tear duct to determine the benefit of permanent occlusion. If symptoms greatly improve, Dr. Johnson can perform a simple cautery procedure to close the ducts and improve symptoms long term.