Blocked Tear Duct
Blocked tear ducts are a common condition affecting up to 6% of newborns. About one third of the time, both sides are blocked. Signs and symptoms of a blocked tear duct include:
- Tears continuously filling an eye
- Tears running down the face even without crying
- The nostril on the blocked side remaining dry during crying
- An onset before 1 month of age
- A normal eyelid which is not swollen
- A normal eye which is not red
What causes blocked tear ducts?
Tear ducts normally carry tears form the eye to the nose. In newborns, this channel is often narrow and easily blocked. As a result, the tears can not drain. The tears evaporate on the margin of the eye resulting in yellow crust formation around the eye especially during sleep and naps. Most blocked tear ducts are not detected until newborns begin noticeable tear production between 2 and 4 weeks of age.
How long should it last?
Most blocked tear ducts will open spontaneously by 12 months of age. If the obstruction persists beyond 12 months of age, an ophthalmologist may need to use a probe to open it.
What can be done?
Because of poor drainage, eyes with blocked tear ducts may become infected. To keep the eye free of infection, massaging the lacrimal sac, where tears collect, will empty it of old fluids. With freshly washed hands, start at the inner corner of the eye and gently massage upward using a cotton swab or your smallest finger. This should express some clear to white discharge. You may do this twice a day. If the eyes are crusted, a warn washcloth applied to the eyes and then gently moved outward will help remove the crusted material.
CALL OUR OFFICE IF:
- The eyelids are red or swollen.
- The white part of the eye becomes red.
- The inner lower corner of the eyelid develops a red lump.
- Lots of yellow discharge is present.
- Your child reaches 12 months of age and the eye is still watering.