Epiphora - Excessive Tearing

Contributed by:  Sheri L. Berger, DVM, Diplomate ACVO



Epiphora (excessive tearing) results in persistent wetness, and often staining, of the hair below the eyes.  This is not only unsightly (and sometimes malodorous), but it may become irritating to the pet's skin since it creates an excellent bed for bacterial growth and secondary skin infections.

Potential Causes

  • allergies
  • eye infections
  • foreign body trapped under the eyelids or contacting the eye
  • abnormally located eyelashes or facial hairs rubbing against the eyeball
  • defects or diseases of the tear duct drainage system
  • conformational or structural abnormalities of the eyelids
  • infections in adjacent body structures or areas


Treatment
 

The treatment recommendation for epiphora is going to be directed at the cause.  

Treatment might consist of medications, to be administered orally and / or topically, if an infection or allergy is suspected.  Alternatively, surgery might be indicated if eyelid conformation or tear duct problems are determined as the underlying cause for the excessive tearing.

Since there may be more than one cause of epiphora, a complete cure is sometimes difficult, if not impossible, to achieve - particularly when conformational issues are the root of the problem.  Treatment, however, does improve the situation in most cases.  Due to the many and complex causes of epiphora, treatments may need to be repeated to attain the desired result.