Here’s Why Your Eyes Water All the Time

Here's Why Your Eyes Water All the Time

Do your eyes water all the time? Yet, when you last had them examined by your eye doctor, you were told you have dry eyes! How can that be possible if all they do is water?

Sounds kind of backward, right? Well, let me explain why having very watery eyes is actually a sign of dry eye disease (otherwise known as dry eye syndrome).

In the video below, Dr. Jackie Garlich discusses the most common reasons why her patient’s eyes water.

If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.

The 3 layers of your tears

Here is an image of the 3 layers of the tear film

A healthy eye has a perfect balance of tears that rest on the surface of the eye. Your tears are made up of three different layers (see image above). Each layer is produced by different types of glands.

When one or more of these glands are working as they should, this offsets your normal tear balance and dry spots on your cornea can result. Looking at the image below, the dry spots that are staining with the yellow die are actually areas of disease on your cornea. 

Here is corneal dryness staining with sodium fluorescein dye under blue light

In response, your brain triggers the development of tears to try and cover these dry spots. This process is called reflex tearing and is the same kind of tearing that happens when you cry. But please don’t cry unless they’re tears of joy! 😉

Therefore, although your eyes are very watery, the main reason this is happening in the first place is that they’re very dry!

RELATED: The Truth About Artificial Tears & Dry Eye Disease

Overall, healthy tears are important! They help keep bacteria away and properly nourish your cornea so that your vision stays clear. However, tearing up too much is something that can get pretty annoying and needs to be discussed with your eye doctor

If you’re experiencing watery, irritated eyes, you may have dry eye disease! For a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, talk to your local eye care professional today.

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Hi, my name is Jaclyn Garlich and I’m an optometrist practicing in Milwaukee, WI. I grew up in St. Louis, MO and I went to optometry school at the New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA. After optometry school, I did a residency in primary care and ocular diseases at the St. Louis VAMC. One thing I love about optometry is making my patients see better but, in particular, those patients with severe corneal dystrophies. I fit a lot of specialty contact lenses and I find it very rewarding to see a patient go from 20/200 vision to 20/20 vision. When I’m not practicing optometry I write an optometry newsletter called 20/20 Glance. It’s a once a week email delivered every Monday morning with a rundown of what’s new in optometry for the past week. It’s an easy way for the busy clinician to stay up-to-date.