KAMPALA – It has become a common trait that almost 3 out of 10 people on a social gathering, public transport, lecture rooms and many occasions have watery eyes. According to centre for sight –India, In this digital era it is anticipated that at one point due to smart phone, computer usage one has to suffer eye problems since technology has become an integral part of our lives. Be adults, children, Teens and the elderly everyone has a reason to remain engrossed to the digital devices for purposes of work, entertainment, online studies and many more.
Many people think tears are emotional (sad, happy or angry) but this may be beyond emotional and could be irritant or basal tears.
Tears are produced constantly to help moist the eye from wear and tear/ friction theses are basal tears while irritant tears are produced to washout any foreign particle or object from the eye. Tears also help to maintain a clear vision although too much tears affect seeing too. Tearing/Watering eyes(Epiphora) are common and often get better on their own, but treatment may be needed if the watering affects your daily activities.
Causes of tearing 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 tearing eyes can be caused by:
- Common cold
- Digital eye strain(spending much time on the phone and laptop/television)
- Foreign Body in the eye(s)
- Allergy or infection common is conjunctivitis
- blocked tear ducts (the small tubes that tears drain into)
- Dropped eyelid(s) referred to as pitosis or other eyelid problems ectropion(eyelid turns outwards)/entropion(eyelid turns inwards)
- Dry eye syndrome – this can cause your eyes to produce too many tears
- Bell’s palsy a temporary weakness to one side of the face
- Sty(Hordeolum)-a small bump near the eyelid
- some medicines and cancer treatments
- Certain addictions especially Marijuna, Mairungi, Smoking and Alcohol
- Swimming (swimmers eye) due to chlorine irritation
- Emotional causes like stress
However, Babies often have watering eyes because their tear ducts are small. It usually gets better by the time they’re 1 year old.
See a doctor if :
- you have any changes to your vision, such as loss of vision
- you have severe eye pain
- 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
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.
- eye drops 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 General Practitioner cannot find what’s causing your eyes to water, they may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for tests.
- Cleaning and protecting your eyes with lens free goggles
- Avoidance Remedies: avoid all thought causes you’re predisposed to (dust,smoke, pollen, fumes).
- Have eye breaks especially those that use digital / smart devices which are known to cause eye fatigue, resulting in bluring of the vision, tearing and dry eyes.Recall the 20-20-20 rule in eye break. This relaxes the accommodation & convergence muscles
- Take 20 seconds break by looking at an object that is 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
- Visit wellness clinics periodically.
- Ladies: Avoid using expired makeup remember to replace your mascara & eye shadow every three months.
- Palming (Rub your palms warm and place them over your eyes) this relaxes them easily.
- Massaging the eyes ,eyebrows & temples(this improves blood supply of the eyes)
- Periodic blinking & Eye roll-(This exercises the eye muscles called the ocular muscles ) which relives straining.
- Protect children (2-3 years)from developing retinal damage by avoiding prolonged use of devices with bright light or better keep them away from gadgets.
- Devices should kept at a reasonable distance being mobile,i-pad or laptop.Tv devices dangerous and so should be at a reasonable distance.
Author, Brian Nambale is a Clinical Case Manager at Medicure Trauma Centre-Nabumali, Medical Student (MUK), LCV Councilor Mbale District, Member of the Health & Education Committee and an Independent Medical Writer.