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
  21. Coronavirus travel advice
  22. Coronavirus vs. flu: Similarities and differences
  23. Herd immunity and coronavirus
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  25. COVID-19 and pets
  26. COVID-19 and the risk of suicide
  27. COVID-19 and your mental health
  28. COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu
  29. COVID-19 and holidays
  30. COVID-19 (coronavirus) drugs: Are there any that work?
  31. COVID-19 (coronavirus) in babies and children
  32. Long-term effects of COVID-19
  33. COVID-19 (coronavirus) stigma: What it is and how to reduce it
  34. COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?
  35. Coping with unemployment caused by COVID-19
  36. COVID-19 (coronavirus): Quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing
  37. COVID-19: Social distancing, contact tracing are critical
  38. COVID-19 vaccines
  39. COVID-19 variant
  40. COVID-19: Who's at higher risk of serious symptoms?
  41. Debunking coronavirus myths
  42. Does honey offer sweet relief for allergies?
  43. Does zinc work for colds?
  44. Dust mite allergy
  45. Echinacea: Is it effective for the common cold?
  46. Ectropion
  47. Entropion
  48. Eyestrain
  49. Surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic
  50. Getting safe emergency care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  51. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  52. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  53. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  54. Kids, loneliness and COVID-19
  55. How do COVID-19 antibody tests differ from diagnostic tests?
  56. How to safely go to your doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic
  57. How to talk to your kids about COVID-19
  58. How well do you wash your hands?
  59. Humidifier care 101
  60. Humidifiers
  61. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  62. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  63. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  64. Milk allergy
  65. Nasal Cleaning
  66. Nasal spray addiction: Is it real?
  67. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  68. Neti pot solution: Can I make my own?
  69. Neurosurgery during the COVID-19 pandemic
  70. Parenting and special needs during a pandemic
  71. Pet allergy
  72. Pet allergy: Are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?
  73. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  74. Pregnancy and COVID-19
  75. Coronavirus infection by race
  76. Routine cancer screening during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  77. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  78. Safety tips for returning to school during COVID-19
  79. Screen time making your eyes buggy?
  80. Sex and COVID-19
  81. Skin care tips during a pandemic
  82. Stay healthy during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
  83. Stay on track with medications during a pandemic
  84. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  85. Telemedicine online doctor visits
  86. Teleworking during the coronavirus
  87. Video: Travel safely for medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  88. Treating COVID-19 at home
  89. Unusual symptoms of coronavirus
  90. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  91. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  92. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  93. Fight coronavirus transmission at home
  94. Contact tracing and COVID-19: What is it and how does it work?
  95. Wheat allergy
  96. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?