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Nursing Notes: Tears can be help or hindrance for elderly eyes


December 27, 2016

I frequently have people ask me: “Sarah, why are my eyes so weepy? Is there something wrong with them? What can I do to stop it?”

Well, as we age, our eyes get more sensitive to light, debris and wind. They also start making fewer tears.

Our eyelids have glands in them that produce tears. If these glands slow down, we have fewer tears, leading to dry eyes; and then our brain gets the message that we need more tears and excessive amounts are produced, causing watery, weepy eyes.

Our eyes also have tear ducts that usually drain the tears away. But these ducts can get blocked, causing tears to build up and make our eyes weepy.

So if you notice your eyes are going from dry and itchy to weepy, start using an over-the-counter eye drop to moisten them. If this doesn’t help, see your eye doctor because you may have a blocked tear duct.

Some people have severe chronic dry eyes. If you suffer from this condition, your eye doctor may choose to partially block your tear duct so the tears build up a little and help with the dry, itchy eyes.

Also remember our eyes are more sensitive to our environment as we age.

So wear sunglasses when you’re out in the weather and protect your eyes from light, wind and debris.

Sarah Redfern, RN


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