Blocked tear ducts do not allow tears to drain properly from the affected eye. It is important to note that tears normally drain from the eye via the tear ducts. The duct might be filled with fluid and become swollen, inflamed or even infected in some cases.
Blocked tear ducts are likely to occur among infants but can arise at any age. In most cases, the clogged ducts among infants clear on their own during the first year of the child. Generally, it does not have any effect on the vision of the child or cause any long-standing eye issues.
What are the causes?
The usual causes for blocked tear ducts among children include:
- Failure of the slender tissue positioned in the tip end of the duct to gape normally (common cause)
- Unusual development of the nasal bone that places pressure on the tear duct which seals it off
- Closed or poorly developed opening in the eye corner where tears move into the ducts
Among adults, blocked tear ducts can be brought about by damage to the bones or tissues around the eyes or by another condition, oftentimes linked to aging.
What are the indications?
Generally, the symptoms only involve one eye and includes:
- Excessive tearing ranging from the wet appearance of the eye or tears flowing down the cheek
- White or yellow buildup in the eye corner and the eyelids might stick together
- Swelling and redness around the eye or nose
Infants with blocked tear ducts typically have symptoms within the initial few days to weeks after birth.
These symptoms of blocked tear ducts might worsen after an upper respiratory infection such as common cold or sinus infection. In addition, cold, wind and even sunlight can worsen the symptoms.
Management of blocked tear ducts
In most cases of infants with blocked tear ducts, treatment is not necessary. Measures to lower the risk for infection and prevent other issues include:
- Make sure that the eye is clean by rubbing away the drainage with a face cloth or clean cotton ball with warm water. Start wiping from the inner to the outer part of the eye.
- If proposed by the doctor, gently massage the site of blockage to prevent the buildup of fluid.
- Limit the exposure of the child to cold, wind and sunlight.
- Wash hands thoroughly prior and after touching the eye region.
In case there are signs of infection present, the doctor might prescribe antibiotics. There are instances in which a probing procedure is carried out to open the tear duct if it does not clear on its own.