We occasionally have patients, both women and men, who come in complaining of excessive tearing. Aside from seeking treatment, they also want to know the causes of their condition. Does it have to do with lack of sleep? Perhaps an adverse side effect from a medication they’re taking? Below is an outline of what you need to know about how we assess and evaluate tearing disorders.
Understanding the Normal Tearing Process
The lacrimal glands, situated within the eyelids and the white portion of the eyes, primarily produce tears. The main function of tears is to keep your eyes lubricated. When tears are produced, they are drained into the tiny openings (referred to as the upper and lower puncta) situated in the innermost portions of the upper and lower eyelids. These tears are consequently drained into the lacrimal sac and then transported to the back of the nose and throat where they are naturally absorbed via the nasolacrimal ducts.
Possible Causes of Excessive Tearing
Excessive tearing disorders may be a result of these possible causes:
- Birth defects, infection, or injury resulting in blockage of one or more parts in the tear drainage system
- Eyelid or eyelash problems
- Environmental irritants such as fumes, wind, and smoke
- Pre-existing eye conditions such as glaucoma and dry eye syndrome
- Allergic reactions
- Eye strain
- Adverse effects from certain medications
- Consequence of inflammatory disorders
Assessment and Evaluation
The right treatment approach to excessive tearing can only be formulated after a thorough assessment and evaluation, which can be achieved through the following:
- Physical examination of the eye and surrounding structures
- Review of past and present medical history, such as existing disorders that may have resulted in excessive tearing and medications that could cause existing symptoms
- Review of your specific symptoms
- Assessment of your lifestyle (smoking, nutrition, alcohol intake, sleeping habits)
- Imaging tests and laboratory exams (Schirmer test, nasal endoscopy, etc.)
Dr. Tresley’s approach to the assessment, evaluation, and treatment of tearing disorders is based on the premise that each patient is unique — what works for one may not work for the next patient with the same set of symptoms.
If you think you have tearing problems, we encourage you to get in touch with us for a personal consultation. Call 847.291.6900 to set up an appointment!