Nasolacrimal Duct Obstructions

Also known as: NLDO, obstruction of the nasolacrimal duct, tear duct obstruction, blocked tear duct, dacryostenosis.

What are nasolacrimal duct obstructions?

Tears normally drain from the eye through small openings in the corners of the eyelids, entering the nose through the nasolacrimal duct (tear duct). When the tear ducts are blocked it’s known as nasolacrimal duct (or tear duct) obstruction. It’s a common problem in infants at birth (5% or more) and may affect one or both eyes.

What causes nasolacrimal duct obstructions? 

In infants, the problem typically occurs because the tear duct opening at the end of the duct (or other parts of the duct) fails to develop normally. Older children can develop the problem due to a narrow tear duct system, infection, inflammation, or as a complication of eye, nose or sinus surgery.

What are the symptoms of nasolacrimal duct obstructions? 

Excessive tearing with tears running down the face, in the first weeks of life. Eyelids may become red, swollen, irritated and painful. Severe cases may result in infections of the tear duct system (dacryocystitis).

What are nasolacrimal duct obstructions care options? 

In many infants the obstruction clears by itself without treatment. If it persists, treatments may include: tear duct massages, topical antibiotic eye drops, tear duct probing, dilatation, and sometimes surgery.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:13:27 PM

Upcoming Events

Vision, Ocular-Motor and Movement Strategies for Integrated Learning

This course will focus on clinical decision-making for the use of vision, ocular-motor and movement strategies to enhance outcomes. Learn more.

Register Online

From the Newsdesk

Pediatric Neurosurgeon and Chief of Surgery for Nicklaus Children’s Passes Away
The medical staff, employees and volunteers of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital mourn the passing of our esteemed Dr. Sanjiv Bhatia, a longstanding leader and dedicated champion for children with complex medical conditions and their families.
March Patient of the Month: Theodore
Meet our March Patient of the Month, Theodore. Theodore was diagnosed with cleft palate, cleft lip and a heart problem when he was only 18 weeks old. After he was born, Theodore had to be admitted into the NICU to be able to perform the necessary surgeries for him to live a healthy life.


This edition of Dateline Health is about children and infants with special needs.