Watery eyes can be due to many factors and conditions.

In infants, persistent watery eyes, often with some matter, are commonly the result of blocked tear ducts. The tear ducts don't produce tears, but rather carry away tears, similar to how a storm drain carries away rainwater. Tears normally drain into your nose through tiny openings (puncta) in the inner part of the lids near the nose. In babies, the tear duct may not be fully open and functioning for the first several months of life.

In older adults, persistent watery eyes may occur as the aging skin of the eyelids sags away from the eyeball, allowing tears to accumulate and flow out.

Sometimes, excess tear production may cause watery eyes as well.

Allergies or viral infections (conjunctivitis), as well as any kind of inflammation, may cause watery eyes for a few days or so.

Medication causes

  1. Chemotherapy drugs
  2. Epinephrine
  3. Eyedrops, especially echothiophate iodide and pilocarpine

Common causes

  1. Allergies
  2. Blepharitis (eyelid inflammation)
  3. Blocked tear duct
  4. Common cold
  5. Corneal abrasion (scratch): First aid
  6. Corneal ulcer
  7. Dry eyes (decreased production of tears)
  8. Ectropion (outwardly turned eyelid)
  9. Entropion (inwardly turned eyelid)
  10. Foreign object in the eye: First aid
  11. Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  12. Ingrown eyelash (trichiasis)
  13. Keratitis (inflammation of the cornea)
  14. Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  15. Sty (a red, painful lump near the edge of your eyelid)
  16. Tear duct infection
  17. Trachoma

Other causes

  1. Bell's palsy
  2. Blow to the eye or other eye injury
  3. Burns
  4. Chemical splash in the eye
  5. Chronic sinusitis
  6. Facial nerve palsy
  7. Inflammatory diseases
  8. Radiation therapy
  9. Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease)
  10. Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in the body)
  11. Sjogren's syndrome
  12. Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  13. Surgery of the eye or nose
  14. Thyroid disorders
  15. Tumors affecting the tear drainage system
  16. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's granulomatosis)

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Jan. 11, 2018

See also

  1. Allergies
  2. Allergy medications: Know your options
  3. Allergy-proof your home
  4. Avoid rebound nasal congestion
  5. Blepharitis
  6. Blocked tear duct
  7. Can chicken soup cure a cold?
  8. Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets?
  9. Chicken soup: Can it treat a cold?
  10. Cold or allergy: Which is it?
  11. Cold remedies
  12. Cold symptoms: Does drinking milk increase phlegm?
  13. Common cold
  14. Coronavirus safety tips for going out
  15. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  16. Coronavirus: What is it and how can I protect myself?
  17. Coronavirus grief
  18. Coronavirus travel advice
  19. Herd immunity and coronavirus
  20. COVID-19 and high blood pressure
  21. COVID-19 and pets
  22. COVID-19 and your mental health
  23. COVID-19 (coronavirus) in babies and children
  24. COVID-19 (coronavirus) stigma: What it is and how to reduce it
  25. COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine
  26. COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?
  27. Coping with unemployment caused by COVID-19
  28. COVID-19: Who's at higher risk of serious symptoms?
  29. Debunking coronavirus myths
  30. Does honey really help with allergies?
  31. Does zinc work for colds?
  32. Dust mite allergy
  33. Echinacea: Is it effective for the common cold?
  34. Ectropion
  35. Entropion
  36. Eyestrain
  37. Getting safe emergency care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  38. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  39. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  40. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  41. How do COVID-19 antibody tests differ from diagnostic tests?
  42. How to safely go to your doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic
  43. How to talk to your kids about COVID-19
  44. How well do you wash your hands?
  45. Humidifier care 101
  46. Humidifiers
  47. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  48. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  49. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  50. Milk allergy
  51. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)
  52. Nasal Cleaning
  53. Nasal spray addiction: Is it real?
  54. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  55. Neti pot solution: Can I make my own?
  56. Parenting and special needs during a pandemic
  57. Pet allergy
  58. Pet allergy: Are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?
  59. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  60. Coronavirus infection by race
  61. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  62. Screen time making your eyes buggy?
  63. Sex and COVID-19
  64. Skin care tips during a pandemic
  65. Stay healthy during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
  66. Stay on track with medications during a pandemic
  67. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  68. Telemedicine online doctor visits
  69. Teleworking during the coronavirus
  70. Video: Travel safely for medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  71. Treating COVID-19 at home
  72. Unusual symptoms of coronavirus
  73. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  74. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  75. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  76. Fight coronavirus transmission at home
  77. Contact tracing and COVID-19: What is it and how does it work?
  78. Wheat allergy
  79. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?