According to Tom Chang MD, epiphora is among the most common eye infections. “Epiphora is a common eye condition marked by an overflow of tears from the tear ducts,” says Dr. Chang. He points out that although tears are necessary for keeping the eye healthy, an overproduction of tears may be a sign of something more serious. While tears are essential for cleaning and lubricating the outer eye, an overproduction of tears (epiphora) is usually indicative of an underlying eye condition.
Tom Chang MD notes that the most common causes of epiphora are blocked tear ducts, though several other conditions may be responsible. In most cases of epiphora, the condition will resolve itself without treatment.
Below, Dr. Chang explains some of the causes of epiphora, treatments, and symptoms:
Common Causes of Eye Infections According to Tom Chang MD
Blocked Tear Ducts
Tom Chang MD points out that a blocked tear duct, a common cause of epiphora, prevents normal drainage of tears. This blockage leaves the eye irritated and watery, causing high levels of discomfort. He describes a wide range of causes of blocked tear ducts that may lead to epiphoras such as congenital blockage, infection or inflammation, tumors, and injury. He explains that a blockage in the tear drainage system causes the tear drainage system to stagnate. According to Tom Chang MD, this increases a patient’s chances of developing an infection.
According to Tom Chang MD, another cause of epiphora is blepharitis which refers to an inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis occurs when small oil glands positioned near the eyelash base become clogged. Tom Chang MD notes that in most cases of blepharitis, watery eyes are a symptom. He also states that infections or allergies are responsible for most cases of blepharitis.
Tom Chang MD identifies dry eye disease as another common cause of epiphora. Contrary to what we may expect, watery eyes may actually be a symptom of dry eye disease. He explains that the body responds to dry eyes by producing excess tears. Dry eye disease makes the eye extremely irritable; in a bid to relieve irritation, patients may develop epiphora.
Another common cause of epiphora mentioned by Tom Chang MD is pink eye. He explains that a viral or bacterial infection usually causes this condition. He notes that in some cases, the infection may be caused by an allergic reaction as well. Tom Chang MD takes special care to mention that opened tear ducts may cause pink eye in infants. Pink eye caused by allergic reactions is most likely to have epiphora as a symptom.
Tom Chang MD describes the symptoms of Epiphora
Dr. Chang mentions that a prominent symptom of epiphora is persistently watering eyes. In most cases, eyes water excessively, though the tearing can also be mild. Dr. Tom Chang also highlights some other possible symptoms of epiphora, such as redness, sharp pains, eyelid swelling, blurred vision, and soreness. In most severe epiphora cases, all of these symptoms appear at the same time. If a patient experiences one or more of these symptoms, it may be necessary to consult a physician.
Tom Chang MD on How Epiphora is Treated
Tom Chang MD explains that in most cases, epiphora is a symptom of an underlying condition. He emphasizes that most cases of epiphora are mild. However, patients should seek treatment from an eye care professional in cases where epiphora is more serious. When treating epiphora, major attention should be paid to underlying causes.
Dr. Chang explains that in most cases of epiphora, ophthalmologists search for blockages in the tear duct. Usually, diagnosis and treatment is rarely intrusive. According to Tom Chang MD, there are several different treatment options, such as;
Lubricating Eye Drops
According to Dr. Chang, lubricating eye drops may help manage dry eye, which is a common cause of epiphora. He also states that in some cases, certain home remedies are effective in tackling dry eyes. Placing a warm, clean, damp cloth over the eye may ease discomfort and speed healing. He stresses that special care should be taken to ensure that all materials are hygienic to prevent infection.
According to Dr. Chang, pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, should be treated with prescribed antibiotics. In some cases, doctors may advise their patients to wait for some time to see if the condition resolves on its own. Dr. Chang explains that medication may be used to treat epiphora caused by allergies, and antihistamine medications may be used to reduce inflammation in the eye.
Tom Chang MD identifies minor surgical procedures as a possible treatment option for epiphora. In some cases, abnormal growths or foreign objects may need to be removed with minor procedures. Dr. Chang also mentions that if issues like entropion occur (where the lower eyelid rolls inward), minor procedures are necessary. This also applies in cases of ectropion (where the lower eyelid sags outward.
Surgical procedures may be necessary in cases where tear ducts are blocked. Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) is the most common surgical procedure used to treat blocked tear ducts.
DCR involves a simple procedure used to remove a piece of bone from the nose to drain the tear sac. In some cases, the tear duct might not be blocked but narrowed. In such instances, a catheter is used to widen the duct.
Treating Epiphora in Infants
In most cases, watering eyes in babies get better without treatment, says Tom Chang MD. However, he suggests certain simple solutions that may help relieve discomfort, such as light massaging of the tear ducts.s. Daily massages like this go a long way in draining tears from an infant’s eyes.
Tom Chang MD explains that in most cases of epiphora, the condition may resolve on its own. However, he advises that if epiphora persists and is accompanied by other symptoms, patients may need to see a doctor. In most cases, epiphora is a symptom of underlying eye-related issues. Dr. Chang, therefore, encourages patients not to treat persistent epiphora with levity.
Dr. Tom Chang is a managing partner of the Acuity Eye Group. He is a renowned academic, clinician, and surgeon. He has given over 120 lectures across the globe and published 50 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Tom Chang has focused his career on educating patients on their vision health