SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- The tear duct system drains tears into the nose and throat.
- The symptoms of a blocked tear duct include watering and pus around the eye.
- Babies can be born with blocked tear ducts or it may develop later in life.
- Treatment may require surgery and antibiotics to treat any associated infections.
A dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) is an operation on the tear drainage pathway to help improve drainage of tears from the eye to the nose. It is usually performed when there is a blockage in the main tear duct between the eye and the nose (the nasolacrimal duct), that has caused the eye to water and sometimes become infected. It is also sometimes performed when there is a partial blockage to improve tear drainage.
Blocked tear duct's
The eyeball is kept moist and healthy by a thin film of tears that is continuously produced by the lacrimal gland situated underneath the top eyelid. Every time you blink, tears are swept towards the inside corner of the and drained through two tiny tubes called lacrimal canaliculi. From there, tears pass into the nasolacrimal sac, then into the nasolacrimal duct to the nose and, ultimately, to the throat for swallowing.
A blockage along any point of this tear duct system is known as a blocked tear duct or dacryostenosis. The symptoms include a pus-like discharge. Some babies are born with a blockage (congenital dacryostenosis). A range of conditions and events can cause acquired dacryostenosis. In adults, most cases are due to thickening of the lining of the duct leading eventually to blockage.
Symptoms of a blocked tear duct
The symptoms of a blocked tear duct can include:
- watering eye
- tears running down the face
- discharge of pus
- crusted mucus along the eyelashes
- increased susceptibility to eye infections.
Causes of a blocked tear duct
Some of the causes of a blocked tear duct include:
- congenital conditions – some babies are born with a blockage within the tear duct system, usually the nasolacrimal duct. The thin membrane that seals the nasolacrimal duct in utero fails to open at birth or soon after
- chronic nose infections – chronic sinusitis may irritate the tissues and form scars, which may block the tear duct system
- nose trauma – such as a . The injured tear duct system may be blocked by scar tissue
- inflammation of the lining of the tear duct – in most adult cases, the lining of the tear duct becomes thicker with age, eventually leading to blockage
- – 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.
Diagnosis of a blocked tear duct
A blocked tear duct is diagnosed using a number of tests, including:
- physical examination – including medical history
- ophthalmic examination – to check for other possible causes
- particular tests to check for tear drainage – for example, a special fluid is flushed into the affected tear duct opening. A diagnosis of blocked tear duct is made if the patient can’t taste the fluid in their throat
- or – taken of the tear duct area (dacryocystogram).