Epiphora: Understanding the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on epiphora, a condition that can cause excessive tearing and discomfort in the eyes. We are here to provide you with in-depth insights into the causes, symptoms, and effective treatments for epiphora. If you or a loved one is experiencing watery eyes, read on to find out everything you need to know about this condition.

What is Epiphora?

Epiphora, commonly known as watery eyes, is a condition characterized by the excessive production of tears, which can overwhelm the eye’s drainage system. This results in the overflow of tears onto the face, causing discomfort and potential vision disturbances. Epiphora can affect one or both eyes and may occur in people of all ages.

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Causes of Epiphora

Several factors can contribute to the development of epiphora. These include:

1. Blocked Tear Ducts

One of the leading causes of epiphora is blocked tear ducts. Tear ducts are responsible for draining excess tears away from the eyes. When these ducts become blocked or narrowed due to inflammation, infection, or structural abnormalities, tears accumulate and lead to watery eyes.

2. Allergies and Eye Irritation

Allergic reactions to pollen, dust, pet dander, or other environmental allergens can trigger epiphora. The body’s response to allergens can result in excessive tearing as a protective mechanism to flush out irritants.

3. Eye Infections

Infections such as conjunctivitis (pink eye) can cause epiphora. Inflammation of the eye’s surface and surrounding tissues can stimulate tear production, leading to watery eyes.

4. Eyelid Problems

Malpositioned eyelids or eyelashes can disrupt the normal flow of tears, causing them to spill over onto the cheeks. Conditions like ectropion (outward-turning eyelid) or entropion (inward-turning eyelid) can contribute to epiphora.

Symptoms of Epiphora

Epiphora is often accompanied by various symptoms, including:

  • Excessive Tearing: The hallmark symptom of epiphora is the constant presence of tears, even when emotional triggers are not present.
  • Blurred Vision: The overflow of tears onto the eye’s surface can lead to blurred or distorted vision.
  • Eye Discomfort: Watery eyes can cause irritation, redness, and discomfort.

Treatment Options

Managing epiphora involves addressing the underlying cause of the condition. Some effective treatment options include:

1. Warm Compresses and Massages

For cases caused by blocked tear ducts, warm compresses and gentle massages can help open up the ducts and facilitate proper tear drainage.

2. Allergy Management

If allergies are the culprit, managing exposure to allergens and using antihistamine eye drops can alleviate symptoms and reduce tearing.

3. Medications

In cases of eye infections or inflammation, prescribed medications such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory eye drops may be necessary.

4. Surgical Interventions

For structural abnormalities like eyelid malpositions, surgical procedures can correct the issue and restore normal tear drainage.

Preventing Epiphora

While not all causes of epiphora can be prevented, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk:

  • Practice Good Hygiene: Regularly clean your eyelids and eyelashes to prevent blockages.
  • Manage Allergies: If you have known allergies, take proactive measures to manage them and reduce the risk of epiphora.
  • Avoid Eye Irritants: Protect your eyes from irritants such as smoke, dust, and wind.


In conclusion, epiphora can be a frustrating condition to deal with, but with the right understanding and treatment, relief is possible. By addressing the underlying causes and following preventive measures, you can minimize the impact of watery eyes on your daily life. If you’re experiencing persistent symptoms of epiphora, it’s recommended to consult with an eye care professional for personalized guidance.

Remember, if you’re facing persistent or severe symptoms, it’s always best to seek professional medical advice. This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with valuable insights into epiphora, empowering you to make informed decisions about your eye health.