Tearing (Epiphora)

What is epiphora?

The medical term for 'tearing' is epiphora. This is when you suffer from watering eyes. This is an incredibly common condition that usually improves on its own. However, if you suffer from persistent tearing, then it is best to see your GP.


There are varying causes for tearing, which we will discuss below.


Eye injury or foreign body


Any injury or blunt trauma to the eye can result in tearing. The same is true if you get any foreign body in your eye, such as grit or an eyelash. Removal of the foreign body and rest following any trauma should stop the tearing.




This is an infection of the eye that results in the production of pus. The eye produces excess tears to try and help flush out the infection. This can be resolved by taking antibiotics.


Blocked tear ducts


Tears drain into the fine tubes known as tear ducts. If these ducts become blocked, usually because of an infection, the eyes will water. Antibiotics will help to open up these ducts. Sometimes surgery is needed to dilate and then flush the tear duct.


Problems with your eyelid


An eyelid that droops (ectropion) can lead to sore eyes, excessive tearing and infection. If left untreated, this can lead to ulcers on the cornea. You will need to see your GP who will then refer you for further investigations and treatment.


Dry eye syndrome


Dry eye syndrome can result in eyes producing excess tears. This can be caused by a windy climate, contact lenses or inflammation of the eyelid. You may require eye drops, medication or surgery, depending upon the cause and severity.


When to see your GP


If you experience excessive tearing which impacts your daily living activities, then you need to see your GP. They may then refer you on to an optometrist.

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