woman wiping her watering eye

How to stop watery eyes

Ever been in a situation where your eyes have been teary for no apparent reason? While having a little bit of water in our eyes is completely normal and essential for keeping them clean and moisturised, it’s not unusual for our tear ducts to sometimes go into overdrive.

If you’re wondering why your eyes are so watery and what you can do to stop it, keep scrolling through our detailed guide below.

So, what can cause watery eyes?

Our eyes are very sensitive and there are a handful of different things which can prompt them to water. Beyond the obvious emotional triggers (whether that’s laughter or sadness), some of the most common causes include:1
  • Having a cold

It’s very common for your eyes to water if you’ve got a common cold or the flu. That’s because the tear ducts can become inflamed or blocked when you have a viral infection.

  • Your environment

If you’ve been sat in air conditioning all day or your home is particularly dry due to the heating, that could be the culprit of your watery eyes.

  • Straining your eyes

Staring at one thing for too long can cause your eyes to become watery as you’ll likely be blinking more to keep your eyes hydrated.

  • The weather

Weather conditions such as extreme cold or strong winds may irritate your eyes and increase the likelihood of them watering. Eyes can be very sensitive to bright light too, so being in direct sunshine could cause them to water.

  • Dry eye syndrome

This is when the glands on your eyelids (which produce oil that normally prevents moisture from evaporating too quickly) stop working properly. Your eyes then become drier than normal, causing your tear ducts to overcompensate by producing too much water.2

Watery eyes can also be a symptom of certain health conditions such as an allergy or an eye infection. If the weeping persists and is unrelated to the causes listed above, you may want to see your GP.

How to stop watery eyes

It can be tricky to stop your eyes from watering once they start. Depending on what’s causing them to water in the first place, you might want to try:3
  • Cleaning your eyes carefully using eye drops in case they’ve been irritated by dust or grit.
  • Placing a warm, wet towel over your eyes to help unblock the tear ducts if they’ve become clogged up with dirt or mucus.
  • Avoid touching your eye area or rubbing your eyes as it could cause further irritation or an infection.

Preventing watery eyes

By far the best method for stopping watery eyes is to prevent it from happening in the first place. You can do this by:

  1. Protecting your eyes when you’re outdoors by wearing sunglasses.
  2. Making sure you touch your eyeballs as little as possible to reduce the risk of infection if you have a cold.
  3. Looking after your general eye health by eating well and taking supplements which can support your vision.
  4. Regularly going to the optician for eye checks.
  5. Having breaks from tricky tasks or staring at a screen to give your eyes some relief.
If you think you may have an eye infection, it’s important that you seek medical attention rather than treating it yourself. For more handy advice on your health and wellbeing, head on over to our Health Hub.

Last updated: 23 June 2020

Sources
  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/watery-eyes#causes
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/dry-eye-syndrome
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/watery-eyes#treatment
Eye Health