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 a condition such as:
- an allergy or infection (conjunctivitis)
- blocked tear ducts (small tubes that tears drain into)
- your eyelid drooping away from the eye (ectropion) or your eyelid turning inwards (entropion)
- dry eye syndrome – this can cause your eyes to produce too many tears
Babies often have watering eyes because their tear ducts are small. It usually gets better by the time they're 1 year old.
You can ask a pharmacist about:
- what you can do to treat it yourself – such as cleaning and protecting your eyes
- what you can buy to help – such as cleaning solutions, eye drops or allergy medicines
- whether 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
- you experience any changes to your vision, such as loss of vision
- your eyelid is turning inwards or drooping away from your eye
- you have any lumps or swellings around your eyes
- your eyes are very sore or painful
- your baby's eyes are sore, red or very watery
If your GP cannot find what's causing your eyes to water, they may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for tests.
Treatment for watering eyes
Treatment may not be needed if the watering is not causing problems.
If treatment is needed, it will depend on what the cause is.
- eye drops can help if your eyes are dry or infected
- 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
Page last reviewed: 6 April 2018
Next review due: 6 April 2021