Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Is there a solution for watery eyes?

Q. I am 63 and have tears running down my face at odd times. Most of the information I've found on the Internet is about infants with blocked tear ducts. Can you provide some information about tearing in adults?

A. Watery eyes are a common problem for adults, and there's often an effective way of treating them.

First, a little background. Your lacrimal glands, which are located above the eye at the edge of the eye socket, are continually making small amounts of tears at a steady rate (see the illustration). Blinking helps spread the moisture over the front of your eyes, creating a clear, protective film that keeps the eye from getting irritated by dust and dirt and helps fend off infections. But once the fluid has served its purpose, or if there's too much of it, an ingenious drainage system gets rid of the excess. Tiny tear ducts connect the inside corners of the eyes to the inside of the nose. Blinking helps pump the fluid away from the eyes, down the duct, and into the nose. Watery, or teary, eyes develop when more fluid is produced than can be drained away; essentially, it's a plumbing problem.

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