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 (which is eyelid inflammation)
  3. Blocked tear duct
  4. Common cold
  5. Corneal abrasion (scratch): First aid
  6. Corneal ulcer
  7. Dry eyes (caused by decreased production of tears)
  8. Ectropion (a condition in which the eyelid turns outward)
  9. Entropion (a condition in which the eyelid turns inward)
  10. Foreign object in the eye: First aid
  11. Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  12. Ingrown eyelash (trichiasis)
  13. Keratitis (which is 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
  7. Inflammatory diseases
  8. Radiation therapy
  9. Rheumatoid arthritis
  10. Sarcoidosis
  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. Blepharitis
  5. Blocked tear duct
  6. COVID-19 and vitamin D
  7. Cold or allergy: Which is it?
  8. Cold remedies
  9. Cold symptoms: Does drinking milk increase phlegm?
  10. Common cold
  11. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  12. COVID-19: How can I protect myself?
  13. Herd immunity and coronavirus
  14. COVID-19 and pets
  15. COVID-19 and your mental health
  16. COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu
  17. COVID-19 drugs: Are there any that work?
  18. Long-term effects of COVID-19
  19. COVID-19 in babies and children
  20. Coronavirus infection by race
  21. COVID-19 travel advice
  22. COVID-19 vaccines for kids: What you need to know
  23. COVID-19 vaccines
  24. COVID-19 variant
  25. COVID-19 vs. flu: Similarities and differences
  26. COVID-19: Who's at higher risk of serious symptoms?
  27. Debunking coronavirus myths
  28. Different COVID-19 vaccines
  29. Dust mite allergy
  30. Ectropion
  31. Entropion
  32. Eyestrain
  33. Fight coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission at home
  34. How do COVID-19 antibody tests differ from diagnostic tests?
  35. How well do face masks protect against COVID-19?
  36. Humidifiers
  37. Is hydroxychloroquine a treatment for COVID-19?
  38. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  39. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  40. Milk allergy
  41. Nasal Cleaning
  42. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  43. Pet allergy
  44. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  45. Pregnancy and COVID-19
  46. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  47. Safety tips for attending school during COVID-19
  48. Sex and COVID-19
  49. Treating COVID-19 at home
  50. Unusual symptoms of coronavirus
  51. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  52. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  53. Wheat allergy
  54. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?