Almost one third children are born with under-developed tear-duct system. This can lead to blocked tear-ducts, excess tearing and infections. It is fairly common in infants, and more than 90% cases get resolved by the first year with little or no treatment. With the blocks being detected earlier, there are fewer chances of infection and less requirement of surgery.
In adults, the blockage can be caused due to injury to the bone around the eye which closes the duct or puts pressure on it. Aging can also cause blockage of the duct. Some other causes are thickening of the lining of the tear duct, presence of abnormal tissue/structure in the nose and complication aroused by surgery on the nose or around areas.
Symptoms of baby blocked tear duct are mostly seen only in one eye. Some of them are given below:
Note: Babies born with blocked tear duct will present with symptoms in the first few days to first few weeks after being born.
You should contact the doctor immediately if:
You should contact the doctor within 24 hours if:
For the following cases, the doctor need not be called immediately:
If there is a case of repeated infection or irritation in the eye for the child or your own, a doctor should be consulted. Based on the medical history, the doctor might recommend getting some tests done. These tests will determine if excess tears are being produced or there are other underlying causes. Some of the tests are:
Home care for a blocked tear duct in babies can be done in the following ways:
Almost 10% of newborns are affected with blocked tear duct and is quite common. Both sides can be blocked in 30% of the cases. Treatment is not required unless it gets infected.
In case there is a lot of pus in the eye or if the eye lids become sticky, it can be due to a secondary infection in the eye. It is common when there is blocked tear duct and clears up in a few days with the administration of antibiotic eye drops or ointment available with prescription from the doctor.
Warm water and wet cotton balls should be used to remove the dried and liquid pus several times in a day. This should be especially done before putting the eye drops, or they will not be effective.
Massaging the lacrimal glands which store the tears is recommended by some doctors, while some believe that massage is not required to open the blocked ducts. In case massage is required, the following should be done:
For 90% of the cases, the blocked ducts open up by the time the child is 12 months old. When the duct does not open on its own, a probing procedure is used to open it. It is successful in 80% cases. In rare scenarios, if the blocked tear duct condition is severe, a complex surgery might be required.
Some important tips are given below:
A pediatric doctor sharing some professional advice towards baby blocked tear duct: