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Watery Eyes

How can I stop my eyes from watering?

Question

For the past four years I have suffered with very watery eyes when I go out in bright sunshine, even if I wear sunglasses. The same thing happens in a cold wind. I have seen two specialists and an optician, who all say that some people’s eyes just do water when they go out in these conditions. My eyes are healthy otherwise. It is very uncomfortable and embarrassing – can you suggest anything please?

Answer

The almond-sized lacrimal or tear glands are located in the inner top corners of the two eye socket bones. Soft and 'jelly-like' they fit into hollow areas called fossae. These glands are essential for protecting the eyes. The sclera (white of the eye) and conjunctiva (thin translucent membrane covering the sclera and pupil) are vulnerable to the atmosphere and environment, and an dry up very easily. Whenever the eyes are open, the lacrimal glands continually release tears to moisten them. They also work with fat droplets, produced by the tiny glands near the follicles of the eyelashes, to lubricate the eyelids. In this way invading particles (dust for instance) are swept out. Tears also contain an antibacterial chemical to prevent infection.

People suffering from Bell's palsy (temporary paralysis of the facial muscles) who are unable to close their eyes increase the risk of dust particles settling on the eyeballs and also of them drying up. That's why they are often recommended to tape down the affected eyelid at night or wear an eye patch.

If you lose fat round the eye socket and also tone in the muscle walls of the lacrimal glands, tears may be released spontaneously - thus watery eyes. (This tends to happen as people get older, and possibly in people with severe weight loss, such as anorexics.) It gets worse going out in a cold wind because the change of temperature from inside to outside causes contraction or spasm of the tear glands so that the eyes water.

However, your case may be slightly different. As your eyes react to being exposed to the sun as well as the wind, I suspect that the conjunctiva is inflamed or irritated and that it has become sensitive to bright light. This photophobia (photo meaning light, and phobic meaning averse to) causes a stinging feeling and the rears are a reaction to that. Cold air can cause a similar reaction by irritating sensitive eyes.

Sometimes the conjunctiva is sensitive due to chronic sinusitis of the frontal sinuses, which are above the eye socket. Congestion here may spread to the conjunctiva. Moreover, chronic sinusitis makes the upper eyelids lazy so that 'heaviness in the eye', as patients describe it, is a common symptom. Such sluggish eyelids may let particles on to the conjunctiva, resulting in mild irritation. Photophobia is a common symptom of chronic sinusitis, so, in your case, this condition should be considered, too.

Here are my suggestions to reduce your symptoms:

  • Use a mild or a baby shampoo rather than a strong one, which may irritate your eyes. Biomargosa shampoo is mild and contains neem extract, which has natural antibacterial properties.
  • Take Euphrasia 30 potency three times a day for a week. Ideal consult a qualified homoeopath.
  • Pure rosewater drops: such as Pukka Herbs Organic Rose Water Eye Drops. Put one drop in each eye at bedtime to keep the eyes free of irritation.
  • Massage

  • Place your thumbs on the inner upper corners of the two eye sockets, over your eyebrows, and massage the area very gently for 30 seconds morning and evening for two weeks. Also rub your palms together until the friction makes them warm. Cup them over your eyes, concentrating on the inner corners. Do this ten time, morning and evening for two weeks. The warmth soothes the eyes and improves the function of the tear glands.
  • Eye Exercise

  • Close your eyes tightly for five seconds, then open them quickly. Repeat this ten times, morning and evening to tone up the tear glands and exercise the muscles of the eyelids.
  • Wipe your Eyes

  • With your fingers, keeping the eye closed and starting from the inner edge and moving outwards. Repeat several times a day.
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