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Tear Duct Blockage in Children and Adults

In children tear duct blockage usually goes away by the first birthday; if not, treatment is available. In adults, the tear duct might be damaged by infection, injury, or a growth and may require surgery.

Tear Duct Blockage Symptoms:

  • Increased tearing that overflows onto the face or cheek.
  • Tears may appear thicker
  • When dry, the tears may appear crusty
  • If the eyelids stick together, it may be another condition

Tear Duct Blockage Treatment:

  • Clean the eyelids with a warm, wet washcloth.
  • Gently massage the area, using a clean finger and rubbing from the inside corner of the eye toward the nose.
  • If the tear duct blockage cases an infection, your ophthalmologist may prescribe eye drops or other medication.

If tear duct blockage does not improve, it may need to be opened surgically.

Tear duct blockage in adults may require the cause of the blockage to be treated as well. Surgery may be required to rebuild the passageway to make normal tear drainage.

Tear duct blockage should be reported to your ophthalmologist if tears overflow on your cheek, because a tumor or other growth might be the cause. Early treatment is usually successful.

Tear Duct Blockage Prevention:

Tear duct blockage can usually not be prevented. Treating nasal infections and conjunctivitis properly can reduce the risk of tear duct blockage.