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Dr. Dan B.
Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 3343
Experience:  Eye surgeon experienced in cataracts, glaucoma, retina & neuro-ophthalmology
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Watery eyes what to do eye drops dont help

Customer Question

watery eyes what to do eye drops dont help
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. Dan B. replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thanks for your question. Tearing is usually due to one of a few problems: 1. the eyelids not being positioned correctly (surgery, trauma, skin loosening as we age or a Bell's palsy can cause this); 2. There is some inflammation inside or on the eye (corneal scratches or infections and/or iritis) and the eye responds by being light-sensitive and also waters. This is usually not a chronic condition, but a solitary event; 3. Tear drainage obstruction or 4. Dry eye.
By far dry eye is the most common cause of a watery eye.   It sounds backwards to attribute tearing to a dry eye but when the eye is dry, the eye sends a signal to the brain that tells the eye to water, but the watering is usually not sufficient to keep the eye hydrated over the long haul. There are many reasons to have a dry eye. Some of the most common are: not making enough of your own tears, having eyelid inflammation called blepharitis, allergies, living in a dry/windy/dusty environment and some medicines (antihistamines commonly).
I would suggest starting to treat blepharitis. That starts with using artificial tears 4x/day for a few weeks. It must be consistent, daily use, however, or it won't work. This is accompanied by a daily regimen of hot compresses on the eyes x 10 minutes, followed by scrubbing the eyelashes with a dilute baby shampoo solution will help treat eyelid inflammation. If these things are done consistently, it is likely that you will have a noticeable improvement, but you must be consistent about them.  It is also important to understand that it takes 3 weeks of doing this daily before the effect kicks in and then you lose the effect if you stop it or do it only sporadically.
Something important to remember, however, is if you are supplementing your dryness with artificial tears, but aren't treating the inflammation causing the dryness, then you won't see an improvement in the symptoms. Likewise, using artificial tears without doing the above-mentioned treatments may not be sufficient either.  The lid scrubs and compresses have to be done concurrently with the artificial tears for 3-4 weeks before tapering down on the artificial tears.
If you have concerns, though, that your eyelids may be loose and not opposed, then this may be a cause for the watering and would need to be addressed surgically.
Does this make sense and does this help address your concerns?
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My opinion is solely informative and does not constitute a formal medical opinion or recommendation. For a formal medical opinion and/or recommendation you must be examined by your doctor.