Watery eyes can be due to many factors and conditions, including blocked tear ducts, allergies and viral infections. Here we discuss some of the most common issues and causes.
Why do we cry?
Our body produces tears out of necessity. There are 3 distinct types:
- Our eyes stay lubricated and moist all day thanks to basal tears. When we blink, basal tears are spread evenly over the eye’s surface. This process helps protect them and washes away dirt and germs.
- A second type of tear are reflex tears. These are produced as a reaction to something, for example when we chop an onion.
- A final third reason why we cry is due to emotional reasons. Unlike the other types of tears, emotional tears contain stress hormones.
The most common causes of watery eyes
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Blepharitis (eyelid inflammation)
- Dry eyes
- Blocked tear duct
- Intense and prolonged exposure to light
- Chemical agents
- Corneal scratch
- Foreign object in the eye
- Blow to the eye
- Eye infection
- Dust or sand particles
- Ingrown eyelash
- Eyelid turns inward or outward
Epiphora, also referred to as “excessive tearing”, is an overflow of tears. It can either occur intermittently or continuously, and be caused by either an overproduction of tears or an inadequate drainage of tears.
Digital eye strain
Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods of time. This phenomenon is referred to as “digital eye strain” or “computer vision syndrome”.
A typical person blinks about 15-20 times a minute. As previously explained, blinking spreads basal tears over our eyes, which keeps them from getting dry and irritated. However, people blink less often when they’re reading, watching, or playing on a screen. In addition, the contrast of text against the glaring white background can become a strain on the eyes.
Tips for preventing digital eye strain
- Make sure your computer screen is about an arm’s length away from your face and the centre of the screen is about 10 degrees below eye level.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- Take 15-minute break every 2 hours you spend on your devices.
- Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes and prevent dryness.
- Use a humidifier.
- Cut glare by using a matte screen filter.
- Make sure the lighting in the room is brighter than the screen.
- If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break by wearing your glasses.
- See an eye specialist and get regular eye exams.