Signs, Causes, and Treatment For a Blocked Tear Duct

by Sudarsan

Having a blocked tear duct means your tears are unable to drain normally, causing the eye to be watery and irritated. When the tear drainage system is partially or completely obstructed, a condition known as blocked tear duct is likely to occur. Newborns commonly experience a blocked tear duct. The condition often improves without requiring any treatment within the initial year following birth. Below are the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for a blocked tear duct. You can visit for more information.

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A blocked tear duct exhibits the following signs and symptoms: excessive tearing, crusting of the eyelids, blurred vision, redness of the eye’s white part, pus discharge from the eyelids as well as the surface of the eye, painful swelling close to the eye’s inside corner, and recurrent inflammation or infection of the eye. Optometrists often recommend that you visit an eye doctor if you experience tearing of the eye constantly for a prolonged period of time such as several days or repeatedly experience eye infections.


While this condition is common among children, adults also experience a blocked tear duct, often due to an injury, a tumor, or even an infection. A blocked tear duct can be due to a tumor exerting pressure on the eye’s tear drainage system. A frequent visit to the eye doctor’s office can result in the early identification and treatment of the tumor, as this gives the patient and the eye doctor more treatment options to choose from. Chronic infection/inflammation of the eyes, nose, or tear drainage system has often led to blocking of the tear ducts. Injury to the face can not only cause bone damage but also scarring around the tear drainage system, thereby interfering with the normal flow of tears around the ducts.

While a blocked tear duct is common among children, even adults are prone to this eye condition. Congenital blockage is when a child is born with it, as the tear drainage system is sometimes not fully developed at the time of birth, thereby causing a duct abnormality. Age-related changes are also a cause for concern because as people age, the minute openings draining tears often get narrower and possibly become blocked. 


A blocked tear duct is not a death sentence, as the condition is often correctible. For an optometrist to treat this eye condition, he or she has to identify its cause as well as the age of the patient. The eye doctor may administer medications to help fight the infection, including antibiotic eyedrops and pills. However, in many cases, babies born with this condition often get well without requiring treatment, as the drainage system develops over the first few months after conception. If the baby’s eye condition fails to improve, the eye doctor may recommend a special massage technique.  Similarly, a blocked tear duct due to a facial injury may also improve as the injury heals. However, Dilation, probing and flushing may be carried out under general anesthesia. Other treatment options include stenting or intubation and balloon catheter dilation.

Therefore, a blocked tear duct occurs when the tears are unable to drain normally. Newborns are sometimes born with this condition but it often improves after a few months following birth. For adults, you should visit a doctor if the condition fails to improve after a while for a wide range of treatment options, depending on the cause.

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