Tearing and Lacrimal System Houston

The eye, an essential organ of sight, needs constant lubrication to function properly. The tear film provides vital nutrients to the surface of the eye, protects the delicate structures and helps maintain crisp vision. There are many different glands that secrete the different components of the tear film, working together to provide the optimal environment for the eye. These tears constantly bathe the eye, and are propelled towards the inner corner of the eye with each blink. Here you find the lacrimal drainage system that drains tears into the back of the nose (nasal pharynx) from where they are swallowed.

Excessive tearing is frequently a complex condition with multiple factors playing a small but irrefutable role in the overall picture. It is thus important to address each of these factors in a systematic way to correct the condition.

Tearing can be due to the following etiologies:

  1.  Decreased tear drainage: Sometimes tear production is normal but the nasolacrimal system, or tear drain, might be obstructed at some level. This might be a partial or a complete obstruction, resulting in either intermittent or constant tearing, respectively. In addition, an obstruction of the duct might also lead to recurrent infections that can spread to the skin and soft tissue around the eye.
  2. Tear overproduction: Sometimes tearing can occur in the setting of a patent lacrimal drainage system with overproduction of tears. One of the most common causes of tear overproduction is dry eyes. In this case, poor tear film quality results in dryness and irritation, prompting the glands to produce more tears to soothe the irritated ocular surfaces. Often this increased rate of production exceeds the drainage ability of the lacrimal system, resulting in tearing.

Other causes of tear overproduction include blepharitis or eyelid inflammation, allergies, ocular surface irritation and infections.

  1. Combination of the above: In a multitude of patients, tearing is not as straightforward as a drainage or production issue. Multiple factors play small roles to create this larger issue and the various causes need to be teased out and addressed. To give one example, blepharitis in many patients can result in a poor quality tear film, dry eyes and tear overproduction. The eyelid inflammation can also result in scarring of the opening to the lacrimal system and thus decreased tear drainage as well.

A detailed history and thorough examination by your oculoplastic surgeon can determine the cause of your tearing. Depending on the causes, different treatment options are available, ranging from medical to surgical.

At Houston Oculofacial Plastic Surgery, we pride ourselves on our compassionate patient care, our sensitivity and understanding of each patient’s needs and expectations and our drive for excellence. Our goal is to help you and your loved ones feel welcome, comfortable and 100% satisfied with your experience.


If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sami, please do not hesitate to contact us at 713-668-1264 so we can help enhance your life.