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Itchy Watery Eyes

Itchy watery eyes in medical terms is known as Epiphora. It simply means that there is an increase in tears formation by the tear glands. There are many reasons for itchy watery eyes, but it is mostly caused by irritation in the eye.

Tears are very important for our eye. They help in cleansing of the eye and protect it from harmful infections. Tears are also responsible for maintaining the moisture content of the eye, which is essential for it to function properly. There can be times when the eye starts itching by itself or when pain in the eyes cause tears to form by themselves.

Signs and Symptoms of Itchy Watery Eyes

Itchy watery eyes can have the following symptoms associated with them:


Itchy watery eyes is usually accompanied by irritation of the eye, which can lead to inflammation. In most cases the irritation is caused by rubbing the eye. Sometimes when the eye is injured tearing happens and there is intense pain in the eye along with itching. Tears are formed whenever any external particle enters the eye, so any allergen or irritant getting into the eye leads to watery eyes.

Redness and swollen eyelids

Due to itching the blood vessels in the eye become excessively visible, giving it a vivid, red color. The red color can also be caused by the irritation and inflammation of the veins of the eye. The eyelids also swell, get reddish and are inflamed if the eye is injured. This causes increased blood flow in order to hasten the healing process.

Blurred Vision

Due to the accumulation of tears in the eye, a person might be unable to see properly. The tears form a coating in front of the eye and hinder the light from falling on the lens. And thereby cause blurred vision.


Headaches can either cause or lead to itchy watery eyes. If a person’s eyes are itchy, it might lead to a temporary headache. Diseases like eye flu are also responsible for headaches and watery, itchy eyes.

What Causes Itchy Watery Eyes?

Itchy watery eyes might be a problem in itself or a symptom of various underlying diseases. These include:


Cold, cough and fever are the most common reasons for itchy and watery eyes. Sneezing accompanied by a cold cause irritation in the eye. This leads to tears. Cold usually happens due to viruses that cause irritation in the nasal cavity. The irritation can spread to the eyes and throat, leading to watery eyes, sore throat and general body malaise.


Allergies due to external particles like dust, pet dander, pollen or molds lead to nose and eye irritation. The symptoms of allergies usually start with itching and burning in the eye, followed by sneezing and a stuffy nose. Usually, the eyes get teary and clear mucus comes out of the nose. The allergies cause irritation in the inner layer of the mucosal cavity. Some allergens are also responsible for causing irritation and redness in the eye.

Eye Flu

Eye Flu also known as conjunctivitis is a case of pinkeye caused by some bacteria or viruses. It shows symptoms like redness and pain, with the eye becoming watery and extremely itchy. Conjunctivitis spreads easily and any brave soul that comes in contact with the sufferer contracts the disease. A yellow mucus accumulates around or on the corners of the eye, usually overnight while sleeping.


Eye injury or abrasion is another cause of itchy watery eyes. Eye injuries like lesions or small bruises in the eye cause irritation in the outer lining. The body responds to it by producing lots of tears. The tears have antibiotic properties that aid in the healing process of the eye injury. Sometimes after cataract surgery, during recovery the eye gets watery and itch a little till it is completely healed. This is completely normal.

Clogging of the tear duct

Ironically, clogging of the tear duct makes the eye even more watery and itchy. The tear duct is responsible for draining the tears. Its blockage leads to the swelling and irritation of the eye. The tears keep accumulating and the eyes always appear wet.

Foreign particles

Foreign particles like dirt or makeup can cause the eye to get watery and itchy. Some makeup products have harmful chemicals that irritate the eye when they come in contact. Also, sometimes dirt or sand particles get into the eye, causing it to become teary and itchy. The dirt particles might cause little bruises that lead to eye injury.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Ironically, dry eye syndrome is responsible for watery and itchy eyes. The dry eye syndrome as the name suggests is a condition in which there is a lack of enough moisturization to keep the eyes wet. As a result of this, the brain might trigger the tear glands to start producing lots of tears to lubricate the eyes. This however does not permanently solve the dry eye issue as other treatment s are required.

Use of Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are also responsible for watery and itchy eyes in many people. Sometimes, contact lenses move from their site and cause bruising in the eye. This bruising leads to extra tear production and irritation of the eye. Hence, the eye always appears watery.


There are many ways of treating watery and itchy eyes. They are chosen according to the underlying cause of the condition. The treatments comprise:

Know the Cause

The most important step in the treatment of any condition is finding the cause of it. In many cases itchy watery eyes is not a disease, but can be the symptom of a disease. A doctor will therefore evaluate all the other symptoms the person has been experiencing in addition to itchy watery eyes and then reach a decision as to what to do.

Medication and Eye drops

Depending on the cause of itchy watery eyes, medicines are prescribed by the doctor. The prescribed medicines and the eye drops can be in the form of:

  • Anti-Histamines – Histamines are released by the body as a response to allergens. Histamines are responsible for the dilation of the blood vessels and this leads to an increase in the permeability of the walls of the organs. The production of histamines leads to watery eyes and runny nose. In the case of allergies, antihistamines are prescribed by the doctor in order to reduce the production of histamines in the body.
  • Mast cell Stabilizers – This is given to stop the production of histamines. Mast cells are responsible for controlling the release of histamines and other allergic reactions.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines – These are given in the form of eye drops in order to reduce swelling and inflammation in the eye. It can also reduce itchy sensations in the eye. They are usually prescribed in case of hay fever or conjunctivitis.
  • Decongestants – These are mainly used in treating the swollen nasal passage to make breathing easier. In addition to this, they help in the treatment of red eyes and swollen blood vessels.


This is a novel therapy in which the body is exposed to allergens in small amounts, so that it can build up immunity to them. This is a very long-term treatment and is usually done to end allergies once and for all time. Whereas other medical treatments are done to treat the allergy symptoms immediately. Only for it to recur later on.

Natural Home Remedies

Home remedies to treat itchy and watery eyes include:

  • Avoiding allergens – If you are allergic to some substance, try to stay away from it as much as possible. If you do not know what substance you are actually allergic to get a checkup done. If you have an allergy from dust or pollen do not go out during a very windy day. If you must go out wrap a cloth around your nose in order to protect yourself from it. To protect your eyes from allergies wear sunglasses that properly fit on your face and permits nothing harmful to your to eyes get in.
  • Clean the eye properly – Every night before going to bed clean your eyes of any residual makeup or dust particles. Make cleaning your eyelids with fresh cold water a habit before sleeping. This not only protects you from possible allergies and infections but also helps relax the eyes.
  • Do not rub – If the eye is itching, avoid rubbing it. The more you rub an itchy eye the more harmful the consequences can be. The itching might be because of the presence of some foreign particle and your rubbing can cause abrasions to the eyeballs.
  • Get a good Air purifier – Invest in a good air purifier if you are allergic to dust and other harmful air particles. Air purifiers cleanse the air of harmful bacteria, viruses, dust and bring much relief.
  • Rest – Itchy watery eyes can be caused by lack of sleep or stress. So, resting can bring a lot of relief from the condition.


To provide relief from itchy watery eyes there a few things you can do:

  • Cold compress – Apply a cold compress to the eye two to three times a day to help them relax. The cold compress will reduce the itch and inflammation in the eye. You can also wash the eye with cool water to get the same effect.
  • Cleansing – Cleansing the eye regularly even before the actual symptoms of itchy watery eyes can be very helpful in totally avoiding problems. Also, daily clean off all the makeup from the face so that it does not get inside the eyes when sleeping.
  • Remove Contact lenses – Contact lenses are responsible for a lot of irritation to the eye. If you wear them make a habit of removing contact lenses before you sleep. The contact lenses should also be removed before engaging in any activity that can possibly cause its displacement. Otherwise it can injury to the eyes.
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