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Watering eyes

Watering eyes are common and often get better on their own, but treatment may be needed if the watering affects your daily activities.

Causes of watering eyes

It's normal for your eyes to water in smoky environments or if you're outside in the cold or wind.

An eye injury or something in your eye, such as an eyelash or a piece of grit, can also make your eyes water.

Sometimes watering eyes can be caused by:

Babies often have watering eyes because their tear ducts are small. It usually gets better by the time they're 1 year old.

A pharmacist can help with watering eyes

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • what you can do to treat watering eyes yourself – such as cleaning and protecting your eyes
  • what you can buy to help – such as cleaning solutions, eyedrops or allergy medicines
  • if you need to see an optician or GP

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • your eyes keep watering and it's stopping you doing everyday activities
  • your eyelid is turning inwards or drooping away from your eye
  • you have any lumps or swellings around your eyes
Information:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: how to contact a GP

It's still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

Find out about using the NHS during COVID-19

Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:

  • you have any changes to your vision, such as loss of vision
  • you have severe eye pain

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Treatment for watering eyes

Treatment may not be needed if your watering eyes are not causing problems.

If treatment is needed, it will depend on what the cause is.

For example:

  • eyedrops can help if your eyes are dry
  • antibiotic eyedrops can help if you have an eye infection
  • medicines can help if you have an allergy
  • anything in your eye, like a piece of grit, can be removed
  • a small operation may be needed if you have a problem with your eyelids or you have blocked tear ducts

If the GP cannot find what's causing your eyes to water, they may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for tests.

Page last reviewed: 30 September 2021
Next review due: 30 September 2024