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Tear Duct Obstruction

ABC Children's Eye Specialists

Ophthalmologists & Optometrists located in Phoenix, AZ & Mesa, AZ

Tear duct obstruction affects around 5% of infants, causing tears to well up and overflow onto their eyelids, eyelashes, and cheeks. If your baby’s eyelids look swollen or they have crusty eyelids or lashes, contact the team of pediatric ophthalmologists and optometrists at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona. The team diagnoses tear duct obstruction and provide customized services to remove the blockage and protect your child’s eye health. Call or schedule an appointment online today.

Tear Duct Obstruction Q & A

What is tear duct obstruction?

Your body continually produces tears to wash away debris and moisturize your eyes. In most cases, your tears drain through small openings in the corners of your eyes into your nose through the nasolacrimal ducts.

However, if something obstructs the ducts, your tears can well up in your eyes and spill over. Blockages also prevent your eyes from washing away bacteria and other debris which can lead to infection.

While you can develop tear duct obstructions later in life, it’s a relatively common issue for infants.

What are the signs of a tear duct obstruction?

If your infant has a tear duct obstruction, you may notice that their tears look thick. Their eyelids or eyelashes may also appear crusty, or they may have a yellowish discharge around their eyes. When they wake up, their eyelids may be stuck together. Your baby may also be vulnerable to eye infections such as conjunctivitis if they have a tear duct obstruction.

What causes tear duct obstruction?

In most cases, tear duct obstructions in infants are due to the membrane at the end of the tear ducts not opening at the time of birth. However, other causes of blocked tear ducts include:

  • Absent puncta (the openings at the corners of eyes)
  • A narrow tear duct system
  • Infections
  • Nasal bone obstructing the duct

Your ophthalmologist at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists can diagnose the issue blocking your child’s tear ducts and suggest treatment to correct the condition.

How is tear duct obstruction corrected?

In many cases, infant tear duct obstruction resolves on its own as your baby grows. However, the team at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists may recommend a variety of therapies to address the issue and help your baby’s tears drain correctly.

For example, your ophthalmologist may prescribe eye drops and teach you how to perform tear duct massage at home. This gentle stimulation helps to open the tear ducts and allow tears to drain naturally.

Your child may also benefit from minimally invasive eye surgeries such as tear duct probing, balloon tear duct dilation, and tear duct intubation.

If you’re concerned that your infant’s tears aren’t draining correctly or that your baby has frequent eye infections, call ABC Children’s Eye Specialists or make an appointment online today.