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WATERY EYES: Caused by What? Canaliculitis that’s what!

Watery Eyes we will see has many causes: Lacrimal canaliculitis […]

By Published On: 22 February 20122.5 min read

Watery Eyes we will see has many causes: Lacrimal canaliculitis (also called canniculitis) is when the tear (lacrimal) drainage system.

Specifically, the canaliculus, gets inflamed, causing a blockage. This blockage causes the tears in your eye to reflux back into the eye, spilling over and causing watery eyes (epiphora). It is an infection that can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses.

Canaliculitis often has more symptoms than watery eyes, although that is one sign and symptom of the infection. Other symptoms of canaliculitis include:

•    Red eyes
•    Discharge
•    Tenderness on the affected side (or both sides if both eyes are involved)

There are three major causes of canaliculitis – bacterial infections, viral infections, and fungal infections.

•    Bacterial: The most common bacteria found in cases of canaliculitis are Actinomyces israelii, although other bacteria can be responsible for the infection.

•    Viral: The most common viral infection that causes canaliculitis is a herpetic infection – namely, the herpes simplex virus.

•    Fungal: Fungal infections associated with canaliculitis are rare, but when they do occur, the culprits are typically candida or aspergillus.

Treatment of canaliculitis is typically successful when caught early enough. This is why it’s so important to see your therapeutic optometrist as soon as you notice symptoms such as watery eyes. Of course, it doesn’t mean you need to drop everything as soon as your eyes begin to water, but, if you have watery eyes that are bothering you repeatedly in a short period of time, you should get them checked out.

If you are treated for canaliculitis, your treatment will be in two parts. The first part will include a flushing of the canaliculus to remove all the foreign material, pus, and other matter that has built up as a result of the infection. Your particular treatment will depend on what kind of infection you’re experiencing.

•    Bacterial: Your eye will be irrigated with a penicillin G solution (tell your doctor if you are allergic to penicillin so alternatives can be used). Once the canaliculus is flushed, you will be given a topical solution to apply to your eyes, as well as a course of antibiotics.

•    Viral: In the case of a herpes infection, you’ll be given a topical solution to apply five times a day for up to three weeks, depending on the severity of the infection.

•    Fungal: This treatment requires you to have irrigation with nystatin biweekly, as well as a nystatin ophthalmic solution applied to your eyes three times per day.

The earlier treatment begins, the better off you will be for relieving those annoying symptoms of watery eyes. At home, if your eyes are irritated and you need relief, in addition to your course of treatment, applying warm compresses help soothe the eyes and can help remove foreign material that may be contributing to your discomfort.

If your eyes are chronically watering, don’t wait to find out what the problem is – seek the advice of our therapeutically qualified optometrist Dr Jim Kokkinakis as soon as possible.


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