Watery eyes can be incredibly inconvenient – tirelessly wiping away tears and the frustration of irritation. Also known as epiphora, watery eyes can affect and impact many people of all ages, but especially those over 60. When it comes to watery eyes, more than likely your eyes are either not draining properly or simply over producing tears, and there are several key reasons that this could be happening.


Dry eye syndrome.

Would you have guessed? Dry eye is one of the leading causes of watery eyes. It’s more common in older adults, as natural tear production lessens with age. Dry eye syndrome occurs when, over time, your supply of tears is insufficient in lubricating and nourishing your eyes. This can lead to discomfort, and result in an increased amount of tears.


Seasonal allergies can lead to many common eye symptoms: itchy eyes, dry eyes, and yes, even watery eyes. If you’re suffering from allergies, watery eyes are also usually paired with other symptoms such as sneezing, congestion and a runny nose.  Your allergies could be caused by common airborne allergens in your environment: pollen, mold, dust, and pet dander. You may also consider allergies to products you use in or around your eyes.

Blocked tear duct

A blocked tear duct causes issues with drainage—typically your tear ducts would be irritated from not properly draining. This could be due to a gradual narrowing of the upper end of the tear duct. If you have a blocked tear duct, you may also notice a sticky discharge on the eye caused by the stagnant tears within the blocked tear duct becoming infected.


As you can see, there are multiple reasons your eyes could be watering consistently. It’s important to understand the cause so you can receive the proper treatment. If you’re experiencing a mild issue, you can start off with some simple solutions, such as: reduce sun and wind exposure by wearing sunglasses or light-reactive lenses; stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water; and replace any expired or old eye care products.

Your eye doctor may suggest additional remedies if symptoms are still active:

  • Allergy treatments
  • Prescription medicated eye drops or artificial tears
  • Surgery for cases of dry eye syndrome where other treatments didn’t help

If your watery eyes persist or become severe, be sure to visit your VSP network doctor for a comprehensive eye exam and diagnosis. He or she may perform additional tests or suggest treatments to meet your needs.


The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your eye care doctor or physician for actual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This article is the work of the attributed author and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of VSP. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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Judy Nguyen, O.D., is the optometrist at Bella Eye Care Optometry in Newark, CA.