Epiphora

What is Epiphora (Watery Eyes)?

The Yale Sinus and Allergy Program includes world-renowned surgeons and specialists who offer the latest in surgical treatment of excessive tearing and watery eyes (epiphora). 

Epiphora, or watery eyes, is when tears do not drain away properly due to a blockage in one or both tear ducts. Rather than draining from the tear ducts at the inner corner of the eye, the tears drain down the face. Epiphora may also cause the eyes to be red or itchy. 

Symptoms of Epiphora

Symptoms include excess tearing from one or both eyes.

Causes of Epiphora

Epiphora can occur due to eye inflammation, an eye injury, irritants, allergies, loose lower eyelids, or blockages in the nasolacrimal (tear) duct.

Normally, eyelids spread tears evenly across the eye to keep it moist. Remaining tears then go to the tear duct and nose. If the tear duct is blocked, the extra tears spill over from the lower lid and drain down the cheeks. 

Risk factors of Epiphora

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get epiphora; not having risk factors does not mean that you will not get epiphora. If you think you may be at risk, you should talk to your doctor. 

You may have an increased risk of getting epiphora if you have:
  • Allergies
  • Eye injury
  • An eye infection
  • Loose eyelids 
  • Weakness of facial muscles or nerves (due to stroke or other medical conditions) 
  • Tumors

Treatment for Epiphora

At the Yale Sinus and Allergy Program, our surgeons are experts in minimally invasive surgical techniques.

If the tear duct is blocked, the surgical creation of a new duct, called a dacrocystorhinosotomy (DCR), may be necessary. A DCR is performed to correct excessive tearing and watery eyes. The tear drainage pathways are reconnected to the inside of the nose. Most of the time, this can be accomplished through the nostril without any external incisions.

We understand that surgery can seem intimidating, so we take the time to answer all your questions and concerns. It is important to us that you feel comfortable and that you understand what to expect before, during, and after your procedure.