Why do our eyes sometimes water when they're dry? It sounds contradictory, but there's a scientific explanation. In this blog, we'll go over the key points made by our eye doctor to help you understand this phenomenon better.

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How Dry Eyes Trigger Watery Eyes

Your eye's surface structure, known as the cornea, is rich in nerves. When the cornea dries out, these nerves send a signal to your brain. Your brain then sends a message to your lacrimal gland, located inside your eyeball. The primary role of the lacrimal gland is to produce tears. Upon receiving the signal, the gland releases a large volume of tears to rehydrate the eye's surface.

The Overflow Problem

The tricky part is that your eyes can only hold a certain amount of tears at once. When your lacrimal gland produces excess tears, some do their job by lubricating the eyes, but the rest have nowhere to go. As a result, they overflow and run down your cheeks, giving the appearance of watery eyes.

It's crucial to note that watery eyes can have multiple causes. Just because your eyes are watering doesn't necessarily mean you have dry eyes. There could be other factors involved, like allergies or infections.

Not All Watery Eyes Are Caused by Dry Eyes

Watery eyes can be frustrating, and while dry eyes are a common culprit, they're not the only cause. Other conditions could also be responsible for your symptoms. Here's a rundown:


Allergies to pollen, pet dander, or dust can irritate the eyes and lead to excessive tearing. In many cases, you might also experience itching or redness.


Conditions like conjunctivitis (pink eye) can cause your eyes to produce more tears as your body tries to flush out the infection.

Blocked Tear Ducts

If your tear ducts are blocked, tears can't drain normally, leading to watery eyes. This condition is more common in newborns but can occur at any age.

Eye Strain

Spending too much time in front of a computer or reading can strain your eyes, sometimes resulting in more tears.

Foreign Objects or Irritants

Anything from a stray eyelash to smoke can irritate your eyes and cause them to water.

Other Medical Conditions

Some systemic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis or Sjogren's syndrome, can also cause dry eyes and consequently lead to tearing.

If you're experiencing watery eyes, it's crucial to consult an eye care professional for an accurate diagnosis, as the reason could range from something as simple as dry eye to more serious medical conditions.

What to Do If Your Eyes Are Watering

If you're dealing with persistent watery eyes or other eye-related symptoms, it's crucial to visit your optometrist. A targeted dry eye evaluation from your eye care provider can help identify if dry eye is the cause or if other factors are contributing to your symptoms.

A timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment can prevent further complications down the line. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam with us today to get the personalized care you need. Your eyes are worth it.

Explore comprehensive care for dry eye at our trusted optometry clinic in Valencia, attracting patients from Santa Clarita, Palmdale, and San Fernando Valley. Call (661) 775-1860 or fill out this form to make an appointment today.
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