The most common cause of watery eyes is, in fact, dryness!
It is so important to the health of our ocular surface that if it becomes dry, a nerve reflex is generated which stimulates the tear gland to release a sudden deluge of tears, which the tear outflow system is often unable to cope with and the excess of emergency tears may spill over.
Dry eye is a very common problem whose prevalence increases with age. Symptoms include gritty discomfort, redness, stickiness and eyes feeling tired. Symptoms are often most severe in the winter months due to the drying and warming effects of central heating on the environment in which we live. There is currently no cure for dry eye, it is a chronic (long-term) condition and must be managed to improve comfort and protect the ocular surface. Frequent daily lubricant drops and in some cases additional nighttime lubricant ointment must be used on a long-term basis. In the most severe cases, sometimes the tear drainage system may be blocked with silicone plugs or cautery.
Loosening of the eyelids can reduce the effectiveness of the tear drainage system. A degree of laxity develops with advancing age but factors such as smoking and obstructive sleep apneoa (OSA) may further exacerbate this problem. OSA is a condition characterized by loud snoring and intermittent episodes where breathing ceases momentarily multiple times through the night.
Surgical correction of eyelid laxity is performed under local anaesthetic.
Tear Drainage Obstruction
Infection within the tear collection sac (dacryocystitis) may be the event which brings this to medical attention, although sometimes watering +/- stickiness is the presenting problem. Treatment is surgical and usually general anaesthetic is recommended. A stent will usually be placed at the time of surgery to be removed in the clinic at a later date unless the blockage is within the fine tubes closest to the eye (canaliculi) in which case a permanent indwelling tube may need to be placed.
Further Patient Information can be found at www.bopss.co.uk