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 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: November 18, 2021 03:56 PM

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