blocked tear duct

Dealing with a blocked tear duct

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A blocked tear duct is a condition where the drainage system of the eyes is partially or completely obstructed. There is difficulty draining the tears normally, and result to a watery, infected and irritated eye.

Tears come from the lacrimal glands which are found above the eyes. The tears protect and lubricate the eyes and drains into small holes or puncta found in the corners of lower and upper eyelids. Blocked tear ducts in babies or congenital blocked tear duct, heals within 4-6 months. In adults, the condition can be caused by infections of the eye, injuries, swellings and tumor.

Causes of a blocked tear duct

  • Chronic infection of the nose, and chronic sinusitis which results to irritation on the tissues, form scars and cause blocking the tear duct system.
  • Narrowing of the puncta which are the holes in the corners of the eyes due to aging of a person.
  • Cuts on the drainage duct
  • Broken nose or injury produces scar tissues
    blocked tear gland
    In adults, the condition can be caused by infections of the eye, injuries, swellings and tumor.
  • Growth of polyps in the nose
  • Infection in the nose or eyes
  • Conjunctivitis
  • A tumor that compresses the drainage system.
  • Sinus surgery that damages the tear ducts
  • Eye drops that treats glaucoma
  • Radioactive iodine and chemotherapy
  • Abnormal development of the skull and face such as Down syndrome or other disorders


  • Watery eyes or tears draining out of the eyes
  • The symptoms become severe after a cold or sinus infections and exposure to wind, cold or sunlight.


  • Regular cleaning of the affected area. Soak a clean washcloth in warm water. Wring out excess water and wipe the drainage from the eyes several times every day especially if the drainage is due to an infection.
  • Apply warm compress on the area for fast drainage. Press the warm compress over the top of the tear duct at least 3-5 minutes until the drainage clears up.
  • Massage the lacrimal sac to unblock the duct. Massage the area to open the tear duct for fast drainage. Place index fingers at the corners of the eye near the sides of the nose. Put pressure on the area for at least a few seconds and then release. Repeat this process for 3-5 times every day.
  • Prescribed antibiotic eye drops or ointment to lessen the infection and clear the discharge that drains from the eye.
  • Prescribed oral antibiotics to prevent tear duct infection. It stops the growth of bacteria in a specific area of the body and for fast healing of the condition.


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