Have you ever noticed that your left eye keeps watering for no apparent reason? An occasionally watery eye is normal, but if your left eye constantly waters, it can be annoying, concerning, and may indicate an underlying issue.
In this article, we’ll explore the most common causes of a watery left eye and provide tips to find relief. Read on to get answers on why your left eye may keep watering and how to soothe your irritated peeper.
Common Causes of a Watery Left Eye
A watery left eye can have many sources. Here are some of the most frequent culprits behind a constantly weeping left eye.
One of the most common reasons your left eye waters is actually counterintuitive - dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition where your eyes don’t produce enough quality tears to stay lubricated. This causes irritation that can make your eyes feel gritty, sting, burn, and yes, water.
When your eyes are extremely dry, your lacrimal glands go into overdrive trying to compensate by producing extra tears. But these “reflex tears” don’t have the same protective qualities as healthy tears, so they simply overflow from your eye without relieving the dryness.
Dry eyes are more prevalent in:
- Women, due to hormone changes
- Older adults, due to lower tear production
- People with chronic health conditions
- Those taking certain medications, like antihistamines, birth control, antidepressants, and diuretics
If you suspect dry eye syndrome is behind your watery left eye, using ocular lubricants like artificial tears can help supplement your eyes’ moisture. Your eye doctor may also recommend treatments like prescription eye drops for more severe cases.
Allergic reactions are another prime suspect for a constantly watery left eye.
Seasonal allergies in the spring, summer, and fall can cause allergic conjunctivitis, which inflames the conjunctiva tissue lining your eyelids. This leads to itchy, irritated, swollen eyes that water profusely.
Eye allergies are also common with:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Skin/hair products
Avoiding your allergy triggers is the best way to find relief. Antihistamine eye drops like Zaditor or Alaway can also help stop the allergic reaction and reduce swelling.
If over-the-counter treatments don’t provide enough relief, your doctor may recommend prescription steroid eye drops to calm the inflammation.
Blocked Tear Duct
Your tear ducts drain the tears from your eyes into your nasal cavity. If the ducts get blocked, your tears back up and spill out of your eye.
Blocked tear ducts are typically caused by inflammation or swelling of the drainage system. Common causes include:
- Structural abnormalities
Some signs of a blocked tear duct besides watery eyes include:
- Swelling at the corner of the eye
- Crusting of tears on the eyelashes
- Recurring eye infections
Treating the underlying cause of the blockage is key. Your doctor may recommend:
- Antibiotic eye drops for infection
- Massaging the tear ducts to open drainage
- Surgery for structural blockages
Using a warm compress on the affected eye can also help open the tear ducts and stimulate drainage.
Eye infections are a common source of watery, irritated eyes.
Two frequent offenders are:
Conjunctivitis: This highly contagious condition is caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergens. Viral pink eye leads to watery, reddish eyes, while bacterial pink eye produces yellowish, mucus-filled discharge.
Sinus infection: Sinusitis leads to swelling of the sinus cavities around the eyes. This blocks normal tear drainage, causing watery eye overflow.
To treat an eye infection:
- Apply warm compresses to stimulate drainage
- Use antibiotic or anti-viral eye drops as prescribed
- Take oral antibiotics for severe bacterial infections
- Avoid touching or rubbing eyes to prevent spread
- See your doctor right away if you suspect pink eye - it's highly contagious!
- Relieve sinus pressure with nasal decongestants, antihistamines, or nasal irrigation
Getting prompt treatment for infections reduces the risk of complications and helps you recover more quickly.
Environmental irritants like air pollution, smoke, and wind can also irritate your eyes and make them tear up. Your eyes are trying to flush out the irritant by watering.
Ways to manage environmental triggers:
- Wear wraparound sunglasses when outside
- Use eye drops to wash away irritants
- Limit exposure to smoke or heavily polluted areas
- Run a humidifier to add moisture to dry indoor air
Inward or Outward Turning Eyelid
Abnormal positioning of your eyelids can cause irritation that leads to a watery left eye.
Two conditions to look for:
Entropion: when the eyelid turns inward and lashes rub against the eye.
Ectropion: when the eyelid droops outward, exposing the inside of the lid.
Both can create friction and irritation, plus leave eyes prone to infection. Artificial tears and ointments can provide temporary relief, but surgery may be needed to fully correct the lid position.
Irritation from Foreign Body
Have you ever gotten something like an eyelash or speck of dirt in your eye? The resulting irritation triggers watering and tearing to try and flush it out.
With an eyelash or particle stuck on the surface of your eye, you can try:
- Flushing the eye with clean water
- Using eye drops to loosen the irritant
- Gently brushing the eyelash with a clean tissue
Don’t rub your eye, which can scratch the cornea! Seek medical help promptly if you can’t remove the foreign body.
Certain health conditions can contribute to excessive tearing and watery eyes, including:
- Bell’s palsy - Facial paralysis that causes improper eyelid closure and corneal exposure
- Sjogren’s syndrome - Autoimmune disorder that attacks moisture-producing glands, including tear glands
- Thyroid disease - Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism affect tear production
- Rheumatoid arthritis - Chronic inflammation that can impair tear duct function
Treating the underlying condition is key to resolving associated watery eye problems. Artificial tears, gels, or ointments can help provide moisture if tear production is reduced.
When to See a Doctor About a Watery Left Eye
While watery eyes are usually more a nuisance than a major problem, it's a good idea to see your doctor if:
- Watering persists for more than 2-3 days
- Watering is excessive, affecting your vision or daily activities
- Watering is accompanied by other symptoms like eye pain, light sensitivity, redness, itching, headache, vision changes
Seeking prompt medical care is especially important if you experience:
- Sudden onset of severe watery eyes
- Injury to the eye or head
- Yellow/green discharge indicating possible infection
- Feeling like something is stuck in your eye
Early diagnosis and treatment from your ophthalmologist can help resolve the underlying problem and prevent complications.
Tips to Find Relief from a Watery Left Eye
If your left eye keeps watering, try these self-care tips to ease irritation and help it clear up:
Use Lubricating Eye Drops
Artificial tear drops provide moisture and lubrication to soothe dry, irritated eyes. Look for preservative-free drops if using frequently.
Apply drops in the corner of your eye near your nose 2-4 times per day or as needed. This provides relief without interfering with your body's natural tear production.
Avoid Irritants and Allergens
Preventing exposure to things that aggravate your eyes can help reduce watering. Some steps to take:
- Use allergy medication if pollen, pet dander, or dust trigger your symptoms
- Wear wraparound sunglasses when outside to protect against wind and sunlight
- Avoid heavily polluted or smoky areas
- Switch to fragrance-free skin and hair products if you suspect sensitivity
- Run an air purifier in your home and car
- Wash bedding frequently in hot water to decrease dust mites
- Keep pets out of the bedroom if you're allergic
Identifying and limiting contact with irritants and allergies causing your watery eye will go a long way in providing relief.
Wash Hands Frequently
Practicing good hygiene helps prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses that can cause eye infections leading to watery eyes.
Wash hands with soap and water:
- After touching eyes or nasal discharge
- Before applying eye drops
- Before and after caring for a sick person
- After being in public places or blowing your nose
Clean hands are your first line of defense against contagious pinkeye!
Use Cold Compresses
Applying something cool on your closed eyelid can constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling. This helps soothe irritation from allergies, infections, and injuries.
Ways to apply a cold compress:
- Chilled cucumber slices
- Clean cloth dipped in cold water
- Gel eye mask kept in the refrigerator
- Bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel
Apply for 10-15 minutes as needed to relieve discomfort. The cold temperature also slows the release of histamines that cause allergic reactions.
Don't Rub Your Eye
It can be tempting to rub your eye when it's driving you crazy with watering, but resist the urge!
Rubbing will only further irritate your eye and could:
- Spread infection
- Damage the cornea
- Worsen swelling
- Dislodge your contact lens
Instead, use a clean tissue to gently dab your watery eye as needed. Never use the same tissue for both eyes or this can transfer bacteria.
Take Allergy Medication if Needed
For eye allergies, over-the-counter antihistamines like Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra can help reduce watery eyes. Nasal steroid sprays like Flonase can also be effective.
Eye drops like Ketotifen fumarate help stabilize cells in the body that release histamines and other chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
If OTC medications aren't giving enough relief, your doctor may prescribe stronger prescription antihistamine or steroid eye drops or oral medications.
Follow Your Doctor's Treatment Recommendations
For recurring or severe watery eye issues, follow your ophthalmologist's tailored treatment plan. This may involve:
- Prescription eye drops to reduce inflammation and irritation
- Oral antibiotics or antiviral medication
- Allergy shots to decrease sensitivity
- Surgery to open blocked tear ducts
- Eye ointments to lubricate and protect the eyes
- Medicated eye washes to clear infectious discharge
Closely following your doctor’s prescribed treatment regimen is vital for resolving the underlying problem causing your watery left eye. Don’t hesitate to call your eye doctor if symptoms persist or worsen.
Get Relief from Your Watery Left Eye
Dealing with a constantly watery eye can be bothersome, but identifying the source of the problem is the first step toward finding relief.
Pay attention to any patterns in your watering eyes and be observant of any accompanying symptoms. This gives clues to potential causes like dry eyes, allergies, infection, or irritation.
Try simple home remedies like eye drops, cold compresses, avoiding irritants, and good hygiene habits to see if it clears up. See your doctor promptly if your watery eye persists or you experience severe symptoms.
With the right treatment, you can get answers on why your left eye keeps watering and get the relief you need. Don’t hesitate to seek medical advice to keep your vision sharp and eyes comfortable.
I hope these tips help provide some guidance on handling watery eyes. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!