Involuntary Tearing

Epiphora or involuntary tearing is a very annoying situation in which there is an overflow of tears onto the cheek. Although it can occur at any age, it is, however, more common among infants younger than 12 months and adults over 60 years of age.

Causes

There are two main causes of tearing: blocked tear ducts or excessive tear production.

If a patient’s tear ducts become narrowed or blocked (commonly known as watering) their tears will not be able to drain and will pool in the eye and eventually overflow down the cheek. This stagnation of tears increases the risk of developing infections and can cause blurred vision.

Excess tear production occurs when there is irritation of the eyes such as when you have conjunctivitis or work in heated environments.

Diagnosis

It is not always easy to determine why an eye is tearing. It is therefore important that the patient be examined by an ophthalmologist specializing in the lacrimal duct (oculoplastic surgeon) who will explore the ocular surface and the condition of the lacrimal ducts in the consulting room. X-rays or a specific scan of the lacrimal duct are sometimes necessary.

Treatment

If the reason is excess tear production, the cause of the excess tear production, i.e. conjunctivitis, must be treated. In the case of babies born with a blocked duct and frequent tearing and conjunctivitis, a tear duct probing is performed, which is an easy, safe and highly effective procedure.

If the patient has an obstruction of the tear ducts, the solution is to create a new drainage pathway between the eye and the nostril. This procedure can be performed through the skin, through the nostril or through the tear ducts themselves using a laser specially designed for this procedure.

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In any case, it is always advisable to consult an ophthalmologist specializing in diseases of the lacrimal duct, as he/she will be able to offer a more personalized treatment to your needs.