In babies and children, a watery eye is very common. It can occur on one or both sides. The symptoms are an almost constant watering of the eye, and white/clear mucous or discharge (especially in the mornings), or repeated episodes of what are described (mistakenly) as ‘conjunctivitis’. The usual cause is a partial or complete blockage of the tear duct. It can also be due to surface problems on the eye or eyelid infection/cyst.
In adults, there are many causes of a watery eye, including entropion (see ‘entropion’) and blocked or infected tear duct (dacryocystitis). Treatment of persistent blockage of the tear ducts in children is surgical. The tear ducts are syringed and probed, or removable silicone tubes (stents) are inserted. In some cases, bypass surgery (DCR, dacryocystorhinostomy) is performed. In adults, once the cause of the watery eye has been determined, the cause is treated by surgery, usually to the eyelid or tear duct (DCR).