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My eyes are tearing, how could it be Dry Eyes?


My eyes are tearing all the time, how could it be DRY EYE?

Tearing is a problem that can be caused by many different factors including dry eyes.

Dry eyes would not be your first thought if your eyes were tearing all the time but there is a mechanism by which dry eyes may cause you to tear.

Your body has two different pathways by which tears are produced, a basal tear production and reflex tearing.

Basal tear production is accomplished through part of our nervous system called the parasympathetic pathway.  This pathway makes our tear glands produce a low constant level of tears to keep the surface of the eye moist and comfortable.

What Are The Risk Factors For Dry Eyes?

If the tear glands produce too few basal tears the eye gets dry and irritated.  This irritation is picked up by the corneal nerves and a signal is sent to the brain.  Irritation on the eye surface is interpreted by the brain in the same way as when there is foreign body in the eye.  This kicks in a reflex that now gets transmitted through our sympathetic nervous system pathway to make the tear glands produce a sudden flood of tears in attempt to wash out any irritant or foreign body thus producing the symptom of tearing.

That is the mechanism of how dry eyes ends up producing tearing.  Too few basal tears makes the eyes get irritated and that irritation incites a reflex that makes the eye tear.

Are My Medications Causing My Dry Eyes?

Now dry eyes are not the only thing that can cause the eyes to frequently tear.  You could have an obstruction to the tear drainage system so the tears have no place to drain so they just pour out of the eye. Many people also notice they tear more as they get older because the eyelids which help pump the tears down the tear drainage duct get looser and can’t pump the tears as effectively as they used to.  You also could have several other issues that irritate the eye surface and cause some tearing.  Allergies can do it, so can pollution, poor air quality, windy, dust, etc.  The list gets pretty long and can make it difficult to pinpoint a reason.

A comprehensive exam can help narrow down the possible causes of your tearing and help direct potential treatment to improve the problem.

So yes, dry eyes can, somewhat paradoxically, cause your eyes to tear.

For more on Dry Eys see our  Dry Eye Blog Posts.

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Saturday, 18 November 2017

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