Blocked Tear Ducts (Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction)

What is a blocked tear duct?

The tear duct system goes from the eyelids, through the bone on the side of the nose bridge and empties into the nose. A blocked tear duct occurs when the tears can not drain properly from your eyes. 

What are the types and causes of blocked tear ducts?

  • Congenital - Blockage of the tear duct system starting within 2 months of birth. This is very common and is usually due to a membrane in the duct that has not completely dissolved. In most children, the membrane dissolves on its own by the time they turn 1 year old.
  • Acquired - Blockage of the tear duct system that starts after birth. Causes can include infection, inflammation, trauma, and medications

What are the symptoms of a blocked tear duct?

  • Tearing
  • Crusting of discharge and tears on the eyelashes and eyelids, especially worse when waking up
  • Redness and irritation of the eyelid skin

How is a blocked tear duct diagnosed?

A blocked tear duct is typically diagnosed following a complete history of symptoms and eye examination

What is the treatment for a blocked tear duct?

In congenital cases, you can massage over the tear duct. If the symptoms continue after your child has turned 1 year old, then surgery may be recommended to open up the tear duct. In acquired cases, surgery may be recommended.