What Affects Tear Production?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 February 2019
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Tear production can be affected by allergies, medications, and certain types of health conditions. In some cases, inflammation of ducts that both deliver and eliminate tears can also impact this production. In most cases, insufficient tear production is treated using eye drops, but overproduction may require minor surgery.

Most tear production disorders are related to insufficient production, but some people suffer from an over-abundance of tears. In some cases, this condition is caused by allergies. When the body is exposed to an allergen, one of the most common reactions is for the eyes to itch and begin to fill with tears. Another common reason for excessive tearing is the blockage of tear ducts. When this occurs, it is sometimes necessary to surgically open the ducts.

Tears are a combination of oil, mucous, and water. When the eyelid blinks, tears are secreted through tiny drains called puncta located within the upper and lower eyelids. Sometimes these drains become clogged or infected, which can reduce the amount of liquid secretion. Sometimes, irritation caused by contact lenses or environmental pollutants can cause these drains to swell, which also inhibits tear production.


Some medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders and Parkinson’s disease are also believed to affect tear production, causing a condition called dry eye syndrome. This syndrome is often chronic, and patients suffering from this syndrome typically must use eye drops several times a day to keep the eye sufficiently lubricated. With severe cases, doctors may perform a minor surgery to plug tear ducts, so that what little liquid that is produced will stay in the eye for longer periods of time.

Common types of medication that affect tear production are blood pressure drugs that contain diuretics, birth control pills, and antihistamines. In addition, decongestants and some types of antidepressants may also decrease the amount of tears produced. In most cases, when use of the medication is discontinued, tear production returns to normal.

The tear film that covers the eye contains a large amount of vitamin A, and some studies indicate that those who suffer from vitamin A deficiencies are more likely to have insufficient tear production. For these patients, doctors sometimes recommend vitamin A enhanced eye drops. They may also recommend dietary changes that increase the intake of foods rich in vitamin A. This condition is more common in elderly patients, as diminished levels of vitamin A often occur with aging.



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