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: First aid
  5. Chronic sinusitis
  6. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's granulomatosis)
  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. Tumors affecting the tear drainage system

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

Sept. 17, 2020

See also

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  2. Allergies
  3. Allergy medications: Know your options
  4. Allergy-proof your home
  5. Avoid rebound nasal congestion
  6. Blepharitis
  7. Blocked tear duct
  8. Can chicken soup cure a cold?
  9. Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets?
  10. COVID-19 and vitamin D
  11. Safe cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic
  12. Cancer treatment during COVID-19: How to move ahead safely
  13. Chicken soup: Can it treat a cold?
  14. Cold or allergy: Which is it?
  15. Cold remedies
  16. Cold symptoms: Does drinking milk increase phlegm?
  17. Common cold
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  42. Debunking coronavirus myths
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  62. Humidifier care 101
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  64. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  65. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
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  70. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
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  88. Telemedicine online doctor visits
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  90. Video: Travel safely for medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
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  96. Fight coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission at home
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