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

  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. COVID-19 and vitamin D
  10. Safe cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic
  11. Cancer treatment during COVID-19: How to move ahead safely
  12. Chicken soup: Can it treat a cold?
  13. Cold or allergy: Which is it?
  14. Cold remedies
  15. Cold symptoms: Does drinking milk increase phlegm?
  16. Common cold
  17. Coronavirus safety tips for going out
  18. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  19. Coronavirus: What is it and how can I protect myself?
  20. Coronavirus grief
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  22. Coronavirus vs. flu: Similarities and differences
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  27. COVID-19 and your mental health
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  29. COVID-19 (coronavirus) drugs: Are there any that work?
  30. COVID-19 (coronavirus) in babies and children
  31. Long-term effects of COVID-19
  32. COVID-19 (coronavirus) stigma: What it is and how to reduce it
  33. COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine
  34. COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?
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  36. COVID-19 (coronavirus): Quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing
  37. COVID-19: Social distancing, contact tracing are critical
  38. COVID-19: Who's at higher risk of serious symptoms?
  39. Debunking coronavirus myths
  40. Does honey really help with allergies?
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  43. Echinacea: Is it effective for the common cold?
  44. Ectropion
  45. Entropion
  46. Eyestrain
  47. Surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic
  48. Getting safe emergency care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  49. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  50. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  51. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  52. Kids, loneliness and COVID-19
  53. How do COVID-19 antibody tests differ from diagnostic tests?
  54. How to safely go to your doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic
  55. How to talk to your kids about COVID-19
  56. How well do you wash your hands?
  57. Humidifier care 101
  58. Humidifiers
  59. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  60. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  61. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
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  63. Nasal Cleaning
  64. Nasal spray addiction: Is it real?
  65. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  66. Neti pot solution: Can I make my own?
  67. Neurosurgery during the COVID-19 pandemic
  68. Parenting and special needs during a pandemic
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  75. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  76. Safety tips for returning to school during COVID-19
  77. Screen time making your eyes buggy?
  78. Sex and COVID-19
  79. Skin care tips during a pandemic
  80. Stay healthy during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
  81. Stay on track with medications during a pandemic
  82. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  83. Telemedicine online doctor visits
  84. Teleworking during the coronavirus
  85. Video: Travel safely for medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  86. Treating COVID-19 at home
  87. Unusual symptoms of coronavirus
  88. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  89. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  90. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  91. Fight coronavirus transmission at home
  92. Contact tracing and COVID-19: What is it and how does it work?
  93. Wheat allergy
  94. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?