I Tear Too Much!

Have you ever wondered why people tear too much? Apart from the fact that we tear too much when we cry, there are many other reasons or causes that could explain this.

Our bodies produce tears to keep the eyes lubricated, and to help remove any foreign bodies that may be harmful. But when the body produces too many tears, or tear drainage is blocked, the result is excessively watery eyes. This condition can be irritating and troublesome to many of us. Here are some possible causes to watery eyes:

Main Causes

Too many tears

Tear over-secretion is usually caused by irritation or inflammation of the surface of the eye. This can occur for a number of reasons, including eyelash and eyelid problems or allergies. Paradoxically, a dry eye problem can sometimes cause watery eyes, because the eye produces excess tears to overcome the irritation and dryness.

Poor tear drainage

Watery eyes can also occur when the eye’s tear drainage system is unable to drain a normal volume of tears at one particular period. A blocked tear drainage duct can cause this, or it can be as a result of a narrow or displaced tear drainage openings (puncta), or lax eyelids causing the normal tear drainage ‘pump’ (usually activated by blinking) to be functionally ineffective.


Besides having glassy look of the eyes, tears welling, dripping or running down the cheek, other accompanying symptoms may occur depending on the causes. They include foreign body sensation, redness, itchiness, sticky discharge, and swelling on the inner corner of the eye.

Too many tears

  • Allergies
  • Blepharitis (eyelid inflammation)
  • Blocked tear duct (babies & adults)
  • Common cold
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Dry eyes (decreased production of tears)
  • Ectropion (outwardly turned eyelid)
  • Entropion (inwardly turned eyelid)
  • Foreign body in the eye
  • Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • Ingrown eyelashes (trichiasis)
  • Keratitis (inflammation of the cornea)
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Stye (a red, painful lump near the edge of your eyelid)
  • Tear duct infection
  • Trachoma

Other Causes

  • Bell’s palsy
  • Blow to the eye or other eye injury
  • Burns
  • Chemical splash in the eye
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Facial nerve palsy
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Radiation therapy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease)
  • Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in the body)
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • Surgery of the eye or nose
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Tumors affecting the tear drainage system
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s)
Allergic conjunctivitis
Blocked Nasolacrimal Duct
Corneal ulcer
Thyroid eye disease
Facial Nerve Palsy


In the case of excessive tear production, watery eyes can often be treated medically, with eye drops, warm compresses or sometimes systemic medications. Treatment for tear drainage problems is usually surgical, but worry no more, as most of the surgical treatments nowadays are highly effective. Make a visit to the nearest eye facility and get yourself examined and treated for tearing conditions.

Dr Nazila Binti Ahmad Azli
Consultant Ophthalmologist and Oculoplastic, Lacrimal & Orbital Surgeon.

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