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. Stye (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.

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June 11, 2022

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. COVID-19 and vitamin D
  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 disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  15. COVID-19: How can I protect myself?
  16. Herd immunity and coronavirus
  17. COVID-19 and pets
  18. COVID-19 and your mental health
  19. COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu
  20. COVID-19 drugs: Are there any that work?
  21. Long-term effects of COVID-19
  22. COVID-19 in babies and children
  23. Coronavirus infection by race
  24. COVID-19 travel advice
  25. COVID-19 vaccines for kids: What you need to know
  26. COVID-19 vaccines
  27. COVID-19 variant
  28. COVID-19 vs. flu: Similarities and differences
  29. COVID-19: Who's at higher risk of serious symptoms?
  30. Debunking coronavirus myths
  31. Different COVID-19 vaccines
  32. Does honey offer sweet relief for allergies?
  33. Does zinc work for colds?
  34. Dust mite allergy
  35. Ectropion
  36. Entropion
  37. Eyestrain
  38. Fight coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission at home
  39. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  40. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  41. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  42. How do COVID-19 antibody tests differ from diagnostic tests?
  43. How well do face masks protect against COVID-19?
  44. Humidifier care 101
  45. Humidifiers
  46. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  47. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  48. Milk allergy
  49. Nasal Cleaning
  50. Nasal spray addiction: Is it real?
  51. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
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  54. Pregnancy and COVID-19
  55. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  56. Safety tips for attending school during COVID-19
  57. Screen time making your eyes buggy?
  58. Sex and COVID-19
  59. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  60. Treating COVID-19 at home
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  64. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
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