What is a watery eye – and what causes it?
Watery eye happens either because of increased tear production, or due to a problem with the way that tears drain from the eye. The condition can cause quite a lot of distress to patients. When you come in for an appointment, I’ll be able to assess the watering and help you to establish an appropriate management plan.
How do you treat a watery eye?
Once we’ve identified the cause of the watering (and there may potentially be more than one cause), we can create a plan to help you manage it. This can include simple non-surgical treatments, such as managing blepharitis or a dry eye, or may require a surgical procedure. We can also treat watery eye with certain surgical procedures. These focus either on correcting the eyelid position (for example with an ectropion) or improving the drainage of tears through the tear drainage ducts.
Surgery to improve the drainage can be a minor operation on the opening of the tear duct or more involved surgery to bypass a blockage further down the tear duct. Please see the section below on DCR surgery. At your assessment, I will be able to explain where I think the blockage is and how we could try to improve your symptoms. As part of this assessment, I may need to syringe your tear ducts. Please see the section below on tear duct syringing.
What is tear duct syringing?
As part of the detailed assessment of patients with a watery eye, it is often necessary to try to syringe the tear ducts to find out if there is a blockage. The tear ducts drain tears from the inner corner of the eyelids, through very small passages, into the inside of your nose. In some cases, the cause of a watery eye can be a blockage in these fine passages. Syringing the tear ducts involves passing a very fine metal tube into the opening of the tear duct on the eyelid and then gently syringing saline down the passages. If the tear ducts are not blocked, you will often be able to taste this saline in your nose or at the back of your throat. If the ducts are blocked, you will not be able to taste it. It’s not a painful procedure and only takes a few minutes to perform. There is sometimes an additional cost associated with this procedure; my secretary will be able to give you the details of this prior to the appointment.
What is DCR surgery?
If we find that you have a blocked tear duct, it may be necessary to consider a bypass operation (a DCR). DCR stands for dacryocystorhinostomy; in this procedure, the blocked tear duct is opened into the nose in a higher position. This can be done either externally (through a skin incision on the side of the nose, close to the eye), or endoscopically (using a special endoscope instrument inside the nose). There are different benefits and risks associated with either option and I will be able to go through all the different issues when I see you in the clinic to decide on a plan that is best for you.