Blocked Tear Duct

Also known as: dacryostenosis.

What is a blocked tear duct?

The tear duct (nasolacrimal duct) is the tube that carries tears from the corner of the eye to the nose. Blockage (occurring in up to 10% of newborn babies and in 30% of children blockage happens on both sides) prevents tears from lubricating the eye properly or draining normally.

What causes a blocked tear duct?

Blocked tear duct are common at birth due to the duct not being fully developed. Rarely in children they may result from infection, inflammation, injury, tumors or for other reasons.

What are the symptoms of a blocked tear duct?

The eye usually looks normal (unless secondarily infected) but has a constant watery tear filled eye with tears running down the face (occurring after a few weeks of age).

What are blocked tear duct care options?

Most blocked tear ducts will open on their own by 1 year of age. A common treatment includes massaging the duct 2-3 times a day. If infection is present an antibiotic eye ointment may be prescribed. Dilating the duct (sometimes more than once) with a probe (or other mechanism) may be needed. Surgery is occasionally suggested if other treatments are unsuccessful.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: February 03, 2020 12:23 PM

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