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Epiphora, Tearing or Watering Eyes

What is epiphora?

Epiphora is the medical term for excessive tearing of the eye. "Watering eyes" is a synonym for epiphora. Moist hair at the inner corner of the eye or eyes or actual tearing may be noticed.

What causes epiphora?

Epiphora is caused by a variety of conditions that affect tear production, tear flow, or the function of the eyelids. Epiphora is associated with increases in tear production generally caused by irritation of the eye. Potential irritants include foreign bodies or inward-growing eyelashes. Eye infections or cancer of the eyelid can cause epiphora. Epiphora can be caused by blockage of the tear ducts, which prevent drainage of tears. Conditions that obstruct tear flow include congenital (present at birth) malformation of the tear duct system, foreign body, sinus or nasal infection, or inflammation of the tear ducts. Epiphora also can result from the inability of the eyelid to blink correctly, which inhibits removal of tears from the surface of the eyeball. Nerve damage, entropion (inward folding of the eyelid), and ectropion (outward folding of the eyelid) are conditions that can interfere with the blinking process.

What are the signs of epiphora?

Epiphora is a clinical sign. Associated signs are staining or clumping of the facial hair around the eyes and a runny nose in some animals.

How is epiphora diagnosed?

Epiphora is diagnosed by medical history and physical examination. A thorough eye (ophthalmic) examination will be performed with special attention given to the eyelids and lining of the eyes (conjunctiva). Additional diagnostic tests may be performed. A diagnostic dye can be applied directly to the eye (topical) to assess tear duct function. If a bacterial infection is suspected, microscopic examination of the tear fluid may be performed and the tear fluid may be cultured. Radiographs (X-rays) of the skull may be taken. Rhinoscopy (the use of a specialized instrument to look inside the nasal and sinus cavities) may identify nasal or sinus lesions that block the normal flow of tears.

How is epiphora treated?

The treatment for epiphora varies, depending on the underlying cause. Treatment may include administration of antibiotic eye ointment, surgery to correct an eyelid deformity, or removal a foreign body. In some animals, a tube may be placed temporarily in the tear duct to restore drainage of tears. Recheck examinations are necessary at regular intervals to monitor the animal's health status and to assess the response to treatment.

What is the prognosis for animals with epiphora?

The prognosis (outcome) for animals with epiphora varies, depending on the underlying cause. In most affected animals, early diagnosis and treatment are associated with good long-term outcomes. However, recurrence of epiphora is common.


The majority of the information in this page is has been taken from VetMedCenter.com. For further information about this useful source of informtion follow the link or look, on the internet, at www.vetmedcenter.com.