What causes Epiphora?
Imagine the eye is like a sink with the eyelids forming the sides of the sink. The “tap” which produces water is called the Lacrimal Gland. The “drainpipe” is called the Nasolacrimal Duct and leads out from the inner corner of the eye into the nose. There are 2 plugholes in the eyelids (Upper Punctum and Lower Punctum) which drain the tears from the eye into the drainpipe.
Watering is due to:
- Excess tears – ie the tap is turned on too much. This is usually due to any cause of irritation of the eye. Examples are cold wind, peeling onions, infections of the eye, blepharitis, conjunctivitis, post-surgery irritation.
- Eyelid loosening- ie the sides of the sink are collapsing. This is due to eyelid sagging usually with age-ectropion and may be corrected with surgery.
- Inadequate drainage of tears – ie blockage of the plugholes or drainpipe.
What is the treatment?
If the “plugholes” or Punctum are blocked then this can be corrected with simple surgery.
If the “Drainpipe” or Nasolacrimal Duct is blocked then this may also be correctable with surgery. This surgery is called Dacryocystorhinostomy surgery.
If the drainpipe is suspected of being blocked special investigations may be useful.
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