Why does your eyes water when you have a cold: Ocular affectation in Flu and Cold

Why Do My Eyes Water in Cold Weather

The cold weather months bring snow, sleet, and dry air. Winter walking, skating, and other outdoor activities often come with watery eyes that make your eyes red, makeup smudge, and make you look sad when you’re not.

An eye exam can ease your eye health concerns, but watering eyes are typical in cold weather. As counterintuitive as it sounds, your eyes water when they’re too dry. Dry eyes lead to your tear glands producing extra lubrication. The winter months bring the perfect storm of factors to make your eyes water.

What Causes Your Eyes to Water in Cold Weather?

Watery eyes are commonly caused by windy days and cold, dry air that dehydrates your eyes. As your eyes become overly dry, your tear glands will work overtime to produce excess tears. Instead of just lubricating your eyes, tears can fall when your tear ducts are overwhelmed. Even though you’re not sad, your tear glands might make it look like you are. Like a furnace, they cannot turn off right away.   

Outdoor conditions aren’t the only reason your eyes water in cold weather. Chilly conditions tempt you to blast the heat in your car or home furnace, producing the dry air it takes to irritate your eyes. This irritation can manifest in spontaneous watering eyes and trigger your tear glands  to overproduce lubrication.

As annoying as it can be, watery eyes can sometimes indicate your eyes are healthy. It’s a sign that your tear glands are working as they should and creating the excess lubrication your eyes need as moisture evaporates in cold air.

In other cases, watery eyes can be caused by dry eye disease. When you’re suffering from dry eye disease, watery eyes mixed with other symptoms such as redness, eye fatigue, scratchiness, or pain. Too many tears can indicate issues with your tear film, requiring artificial tears or medicated eye drops to ease the symptoms. 

How to Prevent Watery Eyes in Cold Weather?

Running for tissues to combat watering eyes can leave them red and irritated. Preventing watering eyes before they create real tears is the key to overcoming cold weather waterworks.

Wear Glasses

Wearing your glasses and sunglasses in the winter is a simple method to create a barrier between your eyes and the wind. It keeps the humidity between your eyes and lenses contained, so your eyes don’t become overly dry. Contact lenses can also dry out your eyes, so swapping them for your glasses on cold days tends to be beneficial for your eye health. You can also wear sunglasses over your contacts lenses. 

Just like with snowboarding and skiing, all winter sports, like snowshoeing and winter hiking benefit from eye protection goggles to prevent eye-watering, irritation and U.V damage.

Add Moisture

It may seem odd to add moisture to eyes that are already watering, but because dry eyes are the cause, eye drops can stop your eyes from producing excess water. Before you go out into the windy, snowy cold, a few drops can keep the surface of your eyes lubricated.

You can also add humidifiers to your indoor spaces to keep moisture in the air. It will counteract the drying effects of your furnace on cold days and promote natural lubrication of your eyes.

​​Tips to Take Care of Your Eyes in the Winter

 In the winter, your eyes need special care. Some tips to keep your eyes extra safe in winter include:

  • Keep your eyes safe from snow-related damage and scratches. Shards of icy snowflakes can scratch the cornea.
  • Despite the festive season, don’t share mascara or eyeliner with anyone. The risk of spreading bacteria is not worth flawless makeup.
  • Don’t be afraid to blink excessively. Your eyes are trying to find the right balance of moisture, and blinking is the best way to lubricate your eyes.

Should You See an Optometrist for Watery Eyes?

If you notice your eyes water in cold weather with no other irritation or symptoms, your eyes are likely trying to prevent your eyes from getting overly dry.

If you’re noticing that your eyes are persistently watering, regardless of the environmental conditions, you may be experiencing epiphora––which is the scientific term for tearing or watery eyes.


When the tear film can’t drain properly, or there is an overproduction of tears, you can experience watering eyes. There’s a balance between healthy tears that keep the eye’s surface healthy and too much tearing that negatively affects your vision.

People who develop consistent watering eyes may notice other symptoms, including:

  • Redness in the eyes
  • Swelling
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • Mucus around or in the eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

In cold, windy weather, these symptoms can intensify.

These indicators of watering eyes can be uncomfortable, and you may notice difficulty when driving at night and more sensitivity to screens or other lights. These markers are a sign that you need to see an optometrist.

Dry Eye Disease

When your eyes are overwatering, it’s a common sign of dry eye disease. Your eyes are trying to lubricate themselves by flooding with tears. It indicates a problem with your tear film where your tear layers are out of balance. Your tear film can be affected by:

  • Too much exposure to screens
  • Poorly fitted contact lenses
  • Eyelid inflammation
  • Certain prescription medication
  • Ocular surgery 
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)

Dry eye disease is common, but you don’t have to live with it. Detail your symptoms to your optometrist to start treating dry eye disease and stop your eyes from overwatering. 

Still Experiencing Watering Eyes?

If you’re concerned about watering eyes in cold weather or any other season, York Mills Eye Care can thoroughly examine your eyes and tear ducts to get to the root of your concerns. Book an appointment with our team to discuss your eye health and learn how to keep your eyes at their best in cold weather.

Why You Get Watery Eyes In Cold Weather

Are Watery Eyes a Bad Thing?

Watery eyes can actually be a good sign. While too much water can certainly be annoying, those tears are protecting your eyes by keeping them lubricated. The eye’s natural tear film is made up of three layers that work together to protect your cornea and maintain optimum eye comfort.

This maintenance is helped by something called the lacrimal gland, an important structure that sits just above each eye and acts as a water reservoir for the eye’s surface.

The moisture created by our lacrimal glands is constantly evaporating, so when our eyes get watery, that’s our glands reacting to a signal from the brain that we need more tears.

Is It Normal for Eyes to Get Watery In The Cold?

Most people will experience watery eyes occasionally when exposing themselves to cooler temperatures. Generally, cold air is also dry air, and it’s this lack of moisture that is problematic for our eyes.

Think back to the last time you were outside when it was particularly windy. If you were facing the wind, you probably started tearing a lot. That’s because all that air blowing into your eyes rapidly dries out your tear film and kicks your lacrimal glands into overdrive. Essentially, the same thing happens when our eyes encounter cold air, but usually to a lesser extent.

How to Prevent Dry Eyes in Cold Weather

While suffering from watery eyes on a cold day is fairly normal, if you find that your eyes constantly to feel dry when temperatures begin to dip, there are a few things you can do to try to prevent discomfort, such as:

  • Using a humidifier at home
  • Avoiding the outdoors on cold and windy days
  • Wearing goggles or sunglasses for outdoor activities
  • Applying preservative-free eye drops before heading out into the cold

If you find that the above measures aren’t doing enough or if you find your eyes are irritating you no matter the temperature, you may be suffering from dry eye disease, a problem that affects nearly a quarter of Canadians.

How Do I Know If I Have Dry Eye Disease?

One study conducted by a group of doctors in 2019 estimates that more than 6 million Canadians could be living with dry eye disease (DED). Many of them likely don’t realize they’re suffering from it and may even think their dry eyes are normal. 

You may be dealing with dry eye disease if you’re experiencing prolonged eye discomfort and any of the following symptoms:

  • Burning/scratching
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tired eyes

You can try our free online survey to help you determine whether or not your symptoms could be linked to DED. If you want dry eye relief,  you should also book an appointment to see an eye doctor that has the equipped knowledge in dry eye.

Are Dry Eyes a Big Deal?

Unfortunately, dry eyes are more than just an uncomfortable feeling. If left untreated, this imbalance in your tear film can lead to infection, inflammation of the eye, or in rare cases, damage to your cornea.

Don’t Live With Dry Eyes

MyDryEye helps match you with a dry eye doctor near you so that you can get help fast. We’ll help you find an eye doctor who can conduct a comprehensive assessment of your symptoms and determine what course of treatment is right for you so that you can get back to feeling normal again. 

Watery eyes with colds and runny nose: causes, treatment 02 Colds are accompanied by a number of unpleasant symptoms. A person has a stuffy nose, a sore throat and head, and a fever. In addition, the patient often has watery eyes during a cold. The cause of this phenomenon is considered to be swelling of the soft tissues of the nose and irritation of the tear ducts. To get rid of such an unpleasant symptom, it is necessary to comprehensively treat a cold. Do not forget that under such a symptom, not only a respiratory disease, but also a number of other diseases can be hidden.

Features of the symptom

It is worth remembering that the tear ducts are connected to the nasal passages, so any disease of the nose can also affect the visual organs. With a runny nose, the mucous membrane swells strongly and moisture from the eyes cannot normally be released through the lacrimal canals, so it simply flows out of the corners of the eyes.

Such a disorder is often accompanied by pain and pain in the eyes, and photophobia often occurs. Constantly moist eyes are an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. If they begin to multiply on the mucous membrane of the eyes, then conjunctivitis develops. In this case, the use of antibacterial drugs is indispensable.

Why the eyes are watery

Tearing of the eyes with a runny nose is easily explained, due to swelling of the tissues of the nose, the normal discharge of tear fluid is disturbed. But the cause of such an unpleasant phenomenon can be a number of other diseases, some of which are somewhat reminiscent of a cold with symptoms.

Allergic rhinitis

Very similar to the common cold allergic rhinitis. In this case, a person has a scratchy throat and a strong flow from the nose. The patient often sneezes, his eyes become red and constantly watery.

Allergies can be triggered by certain foods, household dust and animal hair. Sometimes a person does not understand where his allergy came from, even without taking into account that he sleeps on a down pillow, and down is a great allergen.

Vasoconstrictor drops can also provoke an allergic reaction, especially if they are used very often. To avoid such a complication, such drops should be used no longer than 2-3 days.

Treatment of allergic rhinitis should begin with the elimination of any contact with allergens. Reception of antihistamine preparations is shown.


An infectious disease such as conjunctivitis can provoke tearing. In this case, lacrimation and photophobia are also observed. Eyes hurt, they bake, pus is released from them. In the morning, the patient cannot open his eyes normally, as the eyelashes are glued together with purulent masses.

Conjunctivitis can be allergic, viral or bacterial, depending on this and prescribed treatment. With a viral and allergic form, two eyes are immediately affected, with a bacterial form of the disease, one eye is first affected, and a few days later the second.

Treatment is limited to the use of antibacterial drops and ointments. Floksal, Tobrex, Levomycetin drops and Tsiprolet will help. If several drugs are used, then the time interval between them should be at least 10 minutes.

In bacterial conjunctivitis, antibiotics should be used for at least 5 days.

Influenza and acute respiratory infections

In case of respiratory diseases, the eyes are almost always red and watery. This is due to swelling of the nasal mucosa and irritation of the eyes by pathogens. This state lasts no more than 3 days.

Conjunctivitis can become a complication of a cold, in which case the symptom persists for a longer time. A cold is accompanied by a sore throat, runny nose, fever, and frequent sneezing. The patient needs complex treatment.

Pathologies of the paranasal sinuses

Diseases of the paranasal sinuses can also cause tearing. Most often, sinusitis leads to the constant release of lacrimal fluid. In this case, the maxillary sinuses become inflamed and filled with pus, as a result of which soft tissue edema occurs and the outflow of lacrimal fluid becomes difficult.

Sinusitis and rhinitis

With sinusitis and rhinitis, the patient often has a headache, there is a feeling of pressure from the inside in the region of the bridge of the nose and near the wings of the nose. With labyrinthitis, the patient is tormented by severe headaches. These diseases are accompanied by high fever, runny nose, cough and lacrimation.

Treatment consists of taking antibacterial drugs and washing the paranasal sinuses with antiseptic solutions. In especially advanced cases, bone punching and pumping out of purulent masses are required. Then the cavity is washed with an antiseptic solution. After such an operation, the patient must be prescribed broad-spectrum antibiotics, which help prevent complications.


Cysts and polyps in the nose can provoke tearing, especially if they are located close to the tear ducts. Treatment in this case is reduced to the removal of neoplasms surgically, the operation can be done with a laser or in the classical way. This surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia.

If lacrimation persists for a long time, a complete examination is necessary. Serious diseases can be the cause of this unpleasant phenomenon.

Peculiarities and causes in a child

Other factors may also be the cause of tearing in children of different ages. This symptom can be caused by:

  • Various perfumes. Strongly pungent odors can provoke the strongest lacrimation in the baby.
  • Excessively dry indoor air can also cause tearing. If there is a sick child in the house, then it is necessary to monitor the humidity of the air. During the illness, the mucous membranes of the baby are already too dry, which leads to their severe irritation. To humidify the air in your home, you can use wet towels or special household humidifiers.
  • Foreign objects in the nose or eyes. In this case, the baby also sheds abundant tears. When a foreign body enters the eye, reddening of the mucous membrane and severe pain in the eyeball are observed. If some small object got into the nose, then more often there is lacrimation from both eyes at once and severe lacrimation.

In infants, watery eyes may be caused by an allergy to formula milk or complementary foods. Most often, such an allergy occurs with skin rashes like urticaria.

When to see a doctor

In some cases, you should not delay in going to the doctor, as there is a risk of serious complications. Only a specialist can accurately diagnose and prescribe treatment. A doctor’s examination is necessary in the following cases:

  • If a cold is accompanied by a high temperature that does not go well or lasts more than 5 days in a row.
  • If, in addition to tearing, there is skin itching and soft tissue swelling.
  • If there is a suspicion that a foreign body has entered the nose or eye. In many cases, without the help of a doctor is not enough.
  • If the patient’s condition worsens every minute.
  • With suppuration from the eyes, and if in the morning the eyelashes stick together in purulent masses.
  • If there is a feeling of pressure in the face or migraines are frequent.

In any case, it is necessary to see a doctor if a young child is ill. In children, colds are often complicated by bronchitis and pneumonia, which is explained by the special structure of the respiratory organs.


In order to quickly and effectively cure colds, you should strictly follow the doctor’s recommendations. Do not try to treat only lacrimation, with a cold this will not work. You can treat colds with medicines and traditional medicine. At the same time, the latest methods only complement traditional treatment. The patient can be prescribed:

  • Antiviral drugs – Groprinosin, Anaferon, Amizon and Viferon.
  • Immunomodulatory drugs – tincture of Echinacea purpurea and medicines based on this medicinal herb.
  • Antipyretics – Paracetamol and Ibuprofen.

If a cold has a complication in the form of otitis media, conjunctivitis, bronchitis or other infectious diseases, then systemic antibiotics are indicated. In such cases, tablets and syrups are often prescribed, only injections are indicated for severe infections.

Time-tested traditional medicine recipes are good for colds:

  • Linden tea. Helps to lower the temperature. It has a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect. It is recommended to drink linden decoction with the addition of a teaspoon of honey.
  • Tea from raspberry twigs lowers the temperature well.
  • With severe lacrimation or the first signs of conjunctivitis, it is recommended to wash the eyes with a concentrated decoction of chamomile or sage. For each eye should take a separate cotton swab.
  • Rubbing. Various rubbing will help to quickly cure colds. To do this, it is good to use goat, badger or bear fat.

It should be borne in mind that the patient must not be rubbed at a high temperature, otherwise the condition will worsen significantly.

Eyes with colds are almost always watery due to a very stuffy nose. It is useless to treat the organs of vision in this case, it is necessary to eliminate the root cause of tearing. If a cold is complicated by conjunctivitis, you need to wash your eyes with antiseptic solutions. Treatment is carried out under the supervision of a doctor.

Watery and sore eyes with a cold (what to do)

If your eyes are watery and sore with a cold, in 80% of cases it is necessary to treat first of all … a runny nose!

Cause watery and sore eyes with a cold may be sinusitis. What it is? Like many other medical terms ending in -itis, sinusitis refers to inflammation. In this case, inflammation of the sinus, and more specifically, the paranasal sinuses. As a rule, sinusitis begins with a cold or flu, when, after some time, the nasal septum swells and sputum production increases on the mucous membrane. The nasal septum swells so much that the passages to the paranasal sinuses are clogged. When phlegm and air cannot move freely between the nose and sinuses, excess pressure builds up in the sinuses. It causes pain in the frontal part of the skull, in the cheeks and upper jaw. And also around the eye sockets. That’s why the eyes hurt with a cold.

Headache and eye pain can also be caused by other causes, such as the common migraine. In this case, it passes quite quickly, within one day, and even without treatment. Whereas a headache from sinusitis lasts up to several weeks.

The reason why our eyes water when we have a cold is also quite simple – swelling of the nasolacrimal canal. The nasal canal is clogged, there is no other way for the fluid to go out, as through the lacrimal canal.

In most cases, syunsitis can be cured quite quickly and without consequences. Quite rarely, there are cases when sinusitis provokes eye diseases, despite the fact that the focus of infection is located very close to the eyes. Sinusitis is much more dangerous for the lungs and the respiratory system as a whole. Sinusitis is generally treated with antibiotics. It is customary to treat a stuffy nose with vasoconstrictor drops, for example, Naphthyzinum. However, one should not get carried away with such treatment – the abuse of this remedy can cause rhinitis.

The main recommendation for those who have watery and sore eyes during a cold is the following: try not to create excessive pressure in the sinuses. For example, when blowing your nose, do it gently, pinching each nostril in turn, and not both at once. Try to postpone your flight until you are well. When taking off or landing, passengers on an airplane experience a sudden pressure drop that will make your eye pain worse.