Blocked Tear Duct & Tear Duct Obstructions

Be Eye Wise and know that a tear duct obstruction, or a blocked tear duct, is diagnosed when the eye’s drainage system is partially or completely blocked. This blockage results in tears failing to drain as intended causing watery eyes that can become easily infected. To learn all you can about a blocked tear duct or tear duct obstruction, please schedule an appointment with a Northwest Eye doctor. Because the more you know, the better you see.

Symptoms of a tear duct obstruction can be:

  • Inflammation (swelling).
  • Tenderness and redness of the inside corner of the eye, or around the eye and nose.
  • Recurrent eye infections.
  • Eye mucus discharge.
  • Crusty eyelashes.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Blood-tinged tears.
  • Fever.

Causes of a blocked tear duct can be:

  • Abnormal development of the skull and face (craniofacial abnormalities), like those in Down syndrome or other disorders, increases the likelihood of blockage of the tear ducts.                       
  • Age-related changes in older adults can cause blocked tear ducts, including narrowing of the punctal openings.
  • Nose trauma, such as a broken nose or scar tissue can block the tear duct.   
  • Nose polyps, a growth from the lining of the nose (affecting some people who have nasal allergies), can obstruct the tear duct system
  • Conjunctivitis, which is infection and inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the eye. In rare cases, the tear duct system may become infected and blocked, especially after some viral infections.
  • Tumor, which may press on the tear duct system and prevent drainage.

Treating a blocked tear duct:

Treating a tear duct obstruction, or blocked tear duct, usually involves same-day surgery using sedation and local anesthesia. There is typically minimimal discomfort after surgery. Care includes frequent ice pack applications, head elevation and limiting bending over and heavy lifting. Patients should avoid nose blowing for two weeks. Nasal decongestants and moisturizers may be used during this time period.

If you suffer from watery eyes or excessive tearing, contact us to make an appointment with Northwest Eye eyelid specialist Dr. Nicholas Schmitt for a thorough examination.