How To Clear a Blocked Tear Duct
If you are experiencing watery eyes, there is a chance you are suffering from a blocked tear duct. Characterized by full or partial obstruction of the tear drainage system, a blocked tear duct can be the result of various phenomena, such as incomplete development of the duct, age, inflammation, or eye infections or injuries; alternatively, it may present as a side effect of certain medications or therapies. The condition is also very common in children, particularly newborn babies. An untreated blockage can be highly uncomfortable and render the tear duct vulnerable to infection and damage.
Thankfully, several potential remedies exist to combat a blocked tear duct. Our oculoplastic surgeon, P. Lloyd Hildebrand, MD, FACS, has corrected this particular condition for countless patients. After performing an initial examination to determine the severity of the issue, Dr. Hildebrand can choose the correct treatment to clear the blockage, ease your discomfort, and restore your ocular function.
The following treatments can clear a blocked tear duct:
- Massage. When an early-stage blockage is detected, it may be possible to remove it by gently massaging the lacrimal sac, or the reservoir in the upper eyelid which drains into the tear duct. Please note, however, that you should not attempt this technique without specific directions from Dr. Hildebrand.
- Antibiotics or ointment. Medicated ointments or antibiotics may be helpful in mitigating infection or clearing discharge or pus from the eye.
- Irrigation and/or probing. In some cases, an eye doctor can flush a saline solution through the tear drainage system to clear the duct. This treatment often includes probing, or the insertion of a tiny instrument into the puncta (small holes in the corners of your eyelids) to locate the obstruction.
- Balloon catheter dilation. Eye doctors can perform a procedure called “balloon catheter dilation,” in which a catheter is placed in the tear duct with a balloon attached. The doctor sequentially inflates and deflates the balloon to clear the blockage. General or local anesthesia is typically required for balloon catheter dilation.
- DCR surgery. Your ophthalmologist may recommend a type of oculoplastic surgery called “dacryocystorhinostomy” (DCR). Also referred to as “lacrimal surgery” and “tear duct surgery,” DCR creates a bypass drain from the lacrimal sac into the nasal cavity to redirect the flow of your tears. While this major surgery is generally only employed as a last resort, it has proven very effective in reversing severe blockages.
If you believe you are suffering from a blocked tear duct, it is essential that you consult an ophthalmologist right away. Early detection of the problem can encourage quicker relief and reduce the risk of complications. For more information, please feel free to contact New Eyes today.