Home
About Us
Is Your Child Sick?
Our Services
New Patients
Forms and Policies
Medical Resources
   Medical Conditions
      Abdominal Pain, Recurrent
      Acne
      Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
      Acute Otitis Media
      Acute Strep Throat
      Addison
      AIDS/HIV
      Anxiety
      Appendicitis
      Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
      Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
      Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
      Breast Enlargement, Premature
      Breath-Holding Spells
      Bronchiolitis
      Care of the Premature Infant
      Celiac Disease
      Chickenpox
      Chickenpox Immunization
      Coarctation of the Aorta
      Congenital Hip Dysplasia
      Coxsackie A16
      Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS)
      Depression
      Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
      Diabetic Mother, Infant of
      Ear Infection
      Eating Disorders
      Eczema
      Enlarged Lymph Nodes
      Erythema Multiforme
      Eye Problems Related to Headache
      Febrile Seizure
      Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
      Fifth Disease (Erythema Infectiosum)
      Flu
      Food Born Illnesses
      Fragile X Syndrome
      Gastroenteritis, Viral
      Gastroesophageal Reflux
      Giardiasis
      Hand Foot and Mouth
      Head Lice
      Headache Related to Eye Problems
      Hemangioma
      Hepatitis A
      Hepatitis A Immunization
      Hepatitis B
      Hepatitis B Immunization
      Hepatitis C
      Hib Immunization
      High Blood Pressure
      HIV/AIDS
      Hyperactivity
      Hypertension
      Hypothyroidism
      Immunization
      Infant of a Diabetic Mother
      Infectious Mononucleosis
      Influenza Immunization
      Influenza-Seasonal
      Kawasaki Syndrome
      Language Development in Young Children
      Lead Poisoning
      Leukemia
      Lung Hypoplasia
      Lyme Disease
      Lymphadenopathy
      Measles
      Mental Health
      MMR Immunization
      Mumps
      Obesity in Childhood
      Otitis Media, Acute
      Pneumococcal Conjugate Immunization
      Polio Immunization
      Premature Thelarche
      Prematurity
      Prematurity, Retinopathy of
      Pulmonary Hypertension
      Pulmonary Hypertension (PPH & SPH)
      Retinopathy of Prematurity
      Rheumatic Fever, Acute
      Ringworm (Tinea)
      Roseola
      Rotavirus
      Rubella (German Measles)
      Scabies
      Separation Anxiety
      Sinusitis
      Smoking
      Speech Development in Young Children
      Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
      Strep Throat-Acute
      Strep Throat-Recurrent
      Stuttering and the Young Child
      Swine Flu
      Swine Flu (H1N1) FAQ
      Swine Flu (H1N1) Vaccine
      Swollen Glands
      Tattoos
      Tear Duct, Blocked
      Tetralogy of Fallot
      Thyroid Problems
      Tinea (ringworm infection)
      Toxic Shock Syndrome
      Toxoplasmosis
      Turner Syndrome
      Underdeveloped Lungs
      Urinary Tract Infection
      Varicella or Chickenpox
      Varivax Immunization
      Vesicoureteral Reflux
      Wheezing-Infant
      Wilson Disease
   What's Going Around?
   Medical Library
Contact Us

Practice News

Medicaid Changes
No more 'assignments' to PCP's!  
We will be your 'Health Home!' 
Never assigned to us? No problem anymore!
 

Is Your Child Sick?TM

Tear Duct, Blocked

What is a Blocked Tear Duct?

When an obstruction occurs in the duct system which carries tears away from the surface of the eye to the nose, it is called a blocked tear duct or nasolacrimal duct obstruction.

 

What Causes a Blocked Tear Duct?

Tears are produced in the lacrimal gland located above the lateral aspect of the eye. These tears are secreted and travel across the cornea, exiting via the superior and inferior puncta (holes) on the inner (medial) corner of the eye. Usually, a small tube called the nasolacriminal duct drains the tears from the surface of the eye into the nose. This duct is usually developed by birth but up to 1% to 5% of the population may have a duct that is incompletely developed or obstructed. The nasolacrimal duct has three valves in it and the majority of nasolacrimal duct obstructions occur at the most distal valve that is located in the nose (Hasner's Valve).

Who gets a Blocked Tear Duct?

Babies begin to produce tears at two days to two weeks after birth. You may notice excessive tearing from one or both of your infants' eyes during this time. Rarely, adults get a blocked tear duct because of an infection, an injury, or a tumor.

What are the Symptoms of a Blocked Tear Duct?

The main symptom of a blocked tear duct is increased or excessive tearing.

How is a Blocked Tear Duct Diagnosed?

A blocked tear duct is diagnosed after a standard eye exam or an internal examination of the nose. If necessary, the drainage of the tears can be tracked by an eye stain.

How is a Blocked Tear Duct Treated?

Nearly half of the cases of nasolacrimal duct obstruction will resolve spontaneously by 6 months of age. A pediatric ophthalmologist may need to probe your childs eye between 6 to 12 months of age to help open up the obstruction. In rare circumstances, the probing does not fix the problem completely and a silicone stint may have to be placed in the nasolacrimal duct for 1 to 3 months to help keep the duct open.

In the meantime, your health care provider may choose to prescribe antibiotic drops or ointment if your child has persistent yellow drainage from the eye. Some health care providers recommend a massage technique to try to unblock the duct. Two methods have been recommended. You may place a washed finger between the nose and the inner corner of the eye. Massage downward (inferiorly) in an attempt to push the tears through the nasolacrimal duct via its normal path. Another recommendation calls for a superior motion in the same location, pushing the tears out of the duct. You should do this procedure at every other feeding for a newborn.

What are the Complications of a Blocked Tear Duct?

A blocked tear duct can cause a significantly higher amount of eye infections resulting in yellow discharge from the eye. These infections can be treated by antibiotic eye drops or ointment.

Rarely, your child may develop a bluish swelling on the skin between the nose and the inner corner of the eye(an amniotecele). Massage may be attempted. However, if the swollen area becomes red and inflamed, you should contact your health care provider immediately for an abscess may be developing which requires IV antibiotics and probing.

References

Nelson LB, Calhoun LJ, Menduke H. Medical Management of congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction. Pediatrics 76: 173 1985

Wright, KW. Pediatric Ophthalmology for Primary Care, 2003, American Academy of Pediatrics

Reviewed by: Evan Taragano MD

This Article contains the comments, views and opinions of the Author at the time of its writing and may not necessarily reflect the views of Pediatric Web, Inc., its officers, directors, affiliates or agents. No claim is made by Pediatric Web, the Author, or the Authors medical practice regarding the effectiveness and reliability of the statements contained herein and such individuals and entities disclaim any and all liability for the comments and statements contained in this Article and for any use or misuse of the statements made in this article in any specific medical situations. Further, this Article is intended to be general in nature and shall not be considered medical advice. The statements made are not to be utilized to diagnose and/or treat any individuals medical symptoms. If you or someone you know has symptoms which you believe are similar to this Article, you should discuss such symptoms with your personal physician or other qualified medical practitioner.

Copyright 2012 Pediatric Web, Inc., by Dan Feiten, M.D. All Rights Reserved