Posted on 20th June 2016
The lacrimal gland, within the eyelid, produces tears. Tears are vital for day-to-day lubrication of the eye and to wash away potentially harmful substances or allergens. When natural tear production is disrupted it can cause excessively watery eyes (epiphora). This can be a real nuisance, having to constantly explain that no, you aren’t crying, and many of our female patients have told us what a pain it is for daily make up application.
So if watering becomes excessive, particularly if the eye is red, uncomfortable or producing discharge, or just because you find it a daily annoyance, then you might want to consider making an appointment with your optometrists to find a solution.
What can be done to reduce watery eyes?
A common cause is poor quality tears due to dysfunction of the glands of the eyelid. When other possibilities have been exhausted it is important to investigate whether there are any blockages in the lacrimal ducts. Lacrimal syringing can be used to probe the lacrimal duct. Sterile saline is gently pushed through the syringe, where it may in some cases dislodge debris out through the nose thus removing the blockage causing the watery eyes. This can be performed in our independent Edinburgh practice by one of our highly experienced optometrists. If a more permanent blockage is found then further referral to an eye hospital may be required for a surgical procedure to remove the blockage.
For patient comfort, a drop of local anesthetic will be applied to the lacrimal duct opening (puncta), prior to the syringing process. Probing and irrigation does carry a small risk of injury to the lacrimal passage, which could aggravate any initial symptoms. It is however a very safe, and effective procedure. The procedure is both an investigation (to see whether the drainage channels are operating normally) and a treatment (to try to remove any blockage). We have found around two out of three people with symptoms find an improvement after syringing.
Lacrimal syringing is one of the many treatments covered by Cameron Optometry’s Vision+ membership.
If you know someone who suffers from watery eyes, you might want to share this PDF with them Lacrimal syringing.