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Blocked tear duct

  • Alternative Names

    Dacryostenosis; Blocked nasolacrimal duct; Nasolacrimal duct obstruction (NLDO)


    Treatment

    Carefully clean the eyelids with a warm, wet washcloth. Be careful not to use the same part of the washcloth more than once.

    Some doctors suggest gently massaging the area 2 - 3 times a day. Using a clean finger, rub the area from the inside corner of the eye toward the nose. This may help to open the tear duct.

    If an eye infection develops, your health care provider may recommend that you use eye drops or ointment.

    A blocked tear duct that does not improve may need to be opened by a probing procedure. This may require anesthesia. Rarely, a small tube or stent needs to be placed in the tear duct to keep it open.

    In adults, the cause of the blockage must be treated. This may re-open the duct if there is not much damage. Surgery to reconstruct the passageway may be needed to re-establish normal tear drainage, and stop the overflow onto the cheek.


    Support Groups


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Most of the time, a blocked tear duct will go away on its own before the child is 1 year old. If it does not clear on its own, the outcome is still likely to be good with treatment.

    The outlook for a blocked tear duct in adults varies depending on the cause.


    Complications

    Tear duct blockage may increase the risk of eye infections.


    Calling your health care provider

    See your health care provider if you have tear overflow onto the cheek, because a tumor is one of the possible causes. Earlier treatment is more successful, and may be life-saving.