Blocked tear duct

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A blocked tear duct causes watery and inflamed eyes. Blocked tear ducts develop due to an infection or the presence of a tumor.

A clogged tear duct is a condition where the tears cannot drain normally and results to watery and irritated eye. It is caused by a partial or complete obstruction of the drainage system of the tears. This condition is usually common among newborn babies and gets better without treatment on the first year of life. A blocked tear duct in adults may be triggered by an injury, infection or a tumor.

Symptoms

  • There is redness of the white part of the eye
  • Excessive tearing and traces of blood in the tears
  • Swelling that is painful near the inside corner of the eye
  • Crusted eyelids
    Blocked tear duct

    Excessive tearing and traces of blood in the tears

  • Drainage of mucus or pus from the lids as well as the surface of the eye
  • A recurrent infection of the eye or inflammation which is also called pink eye
  • Blurry vision

Causes

  • Some infants are born with a congested tear duct because the tear drainage system of babies are not yet fully developed or a duct abnormality. Sometimes, a thin tissue membrane still remains on the opening that empties into the nose or the nasolacrimal duct which is known as congenital blockage.
  • As the person ages, the small opening where tears or the puncta drains becomes narrower and results to blockage.
  • Chronic infection or inflammation in the eyes can cause blockage on the tear drainage system of the tear.
  • Injury or trauma on the face can cause scarring near the drainage system
  • A tumor in the nose or along the tear drainage system can cause blockage.
  • Long-term use of medications such as eye drops used to treat glaucoma.
  • A side effect of chemotherapy medication treatments for cancer.

Treatment

  • Clean the affected area regularly. Use a clean face cloth and warm water to wipe the drainage coming from the eye to prevent interruption of vision especially if the drainage is due to infection that can spread to the other eye.
  • Apply warm and moist compress using boric acid powder. Prepare a mixture of warm water mixed with small amount of boric acid powder, mix them well and then soak a cotton washcloth. Wring out the excess water and apply it on the affected eye at least 5 minutes at 3 times every day for the best result.
  • Massage the affected area to help open up the blockage. Using the fingers, massage the eyelids in a clockwise and counterclockwise direction at least 3 times every day. Pinch the bridge of the nose and gently run the fingers over the entire bone.
  • Apply a warm compress using chamomile tea. It helps promote the proper drainage of the area. Make a warm compress by dipping a cotton ball in warm chamomile tea and then press it against the top area of the tear duct at least 3-5 minutes at 5 times every day until the blockage disappears. Avoid making the compress too hot to prevent redness and pain.
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  • All canadianfirstaid.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.