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Eye and Vision Care

Watery Eyes When Exposed to Cold Air

05/26/2010

Question:

My eyes water when cold air hits them. I am a young man aged 33 years old. The left eye waters more than the right eye. I had an eye test and the optician who does it said I passed the test. My GP prescribed me some allergy medicine, but didn’t help.

I feel embarrassed as tears drain down my face and that makes me look like i am crying, mainly in winter when I am outdoors. I am starting to lose my confidence and self-esteem. What should I do?

Answer:

Firstly, and most importantly, you should seek a comprehensive eye exam from a licensed eye professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist). There is a long list of possibilities, but it would be impossible to find the culprit without evaluating your eyes.

Possibilities include, but are not limited to:
-dry eye: seems counterintuitive, but deficiencies in a layer of the tear film can cause excessive watering
-allergies
-blockage in the drainage system of the eye
-infection (bacterial or viral)
-other disruption in the tear film.

All of these diagnosis call for vastly different treatment regimes, so the best advice is to schedule a full eye exam!

Marta Fabrykowski, Optometry Intern at the OSU College of Optometry, contributed to this response.

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Response by:

Andrew J Toole, OD, PhD, FAAO
Clinical Assistant Professor of Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University