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The obstruction of the lacrimal duct often requires special treatment methods, such as dilation, intubation, and, in severe cases, surgery. The well-trained and highly skilled doctors and specialists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital provide patients with a wide variety of diagnostic procedures, as well as multiple treatment options, depending on the particularities of their specific condition.
Tears are permanently secreted by the lacrimal glands, which are situated in the upper region of the eye socket and help keep the eyeball lubricated. Each time we blink, our eyelids spread tears on the surface of our eyeballs, where the fluid acts as a protective layer against bacteria and infections. Subsequently, our tears drain through the lacrimal ducts located in the inner corner of the eye. This way, the protective layer is renewed on a regular basis. When there is a partial or complete blockage in the drainage system of the eye, tears continue to accumulate, causing watering eyes, swelling, irritation, and mucus or pus discharges. In severe cases, infections such as dacryocystitis can occur. When the obstruction is caused by structural problems or tumors, surgery may be needed to restore the function of the tear drainage system.
Treatment for blocked tear ducts varies depending on the cause of the condition. There are several approaches for removing a blockage, including antibiotics, massage techniques, balloon catheter dilation, probing, intubation, and dacryocystorhinostomy. If the obstruction of the tear duct is the result of injury or trauma to the eye, treatment may not be required, as the condition often tends to improve on its own during the healing process. Similarly, the majority of infants born with one or both lacrimal ducts blocked do not need treatment, since the ongoing development of the drainage system in the eye often clears the obstruction. However, if there are no signs of improvement within a few months, one or a combination of treatment approaches may be required.
If the obstruction of the tear duct occurs due to the presence of a tumor, treatment will entail attending to the underlying cause. Thus, the doctor will attempt to either decrease the dimension of the tumor and inhibit its further growth with appropriate medication, or remove it surgically.
Tear duct blockages can be either congenital or acquired. In congenital blockages, the lacrimal duct may be obstructed as a result of an underdeveloped drainage system, due to an abnormality of the duct, or because there is a small portion of tissue preventing tears from properly draining.
Obstructions within the drainage system of the eye can also occur when a patient is suffering from:
Additionally, a blocked tear duct may also occur as a result of:
In such cases, the blockage is considered to be acquired.
The most common symptoms of an obstructed tear duct include:
Diagnosing a blocked tear duct typically involves a complete ophthalmic examination, during which a doctor will be able to identify the visible signs of the condition. In addition, a series of tests may be required for a proper and accurate diagnosis. These tests include:
The following factors may increase one’s chances of developing a blockage within their eye drainage system:
Chronic Eye Inflammation: Recurring eye-related conditions, such as conjunctivitis, cause the eyes to be constantly dry and irritated, and thus more prone to severe infections and tear duct blockages.
Age and Sex: Structural changes in the body related to aging may also target the drainage system of the eye, causing the narrowing of the tear ducts. Additionally, women have a higher predisposition towards developing this condition as they age.
Recurring Nose Infections: Chronic nasal infections, such as sinusitis, also increase one’s risk of tear duct obstruction, since nose infections often involve irritation and scarring of the tissue.
Nose Polyps: People who suffer from allergies, such as hay fever, are more prone to developing polyps, or small growths, which appear in the nose or sinuses. Polyps can cause blockages within the drainage system due to their proximity to the lacrimal ducts.
Glaucoma Treatment: Although rare, certain eye drops used in the treatment of glaucoma can also lead to obstructions in the tear duct, particularly if such medication is used over a prolonged period of time.
Surgery: If a patient has undergone one or more surgical procedures in the eye and nose region, their risk of developing a blocked tear duct increases, since such interventions may produce scarring of the adjacent tissue.
Cancer Treatment: Patients who receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer are at a higher risk of experiencing obstructed tear ducts, particularly if the cancer affects the head region.
A blocked tear duct may often occur due to:
A blocked tear duct may resolve itself within a few months, or it may require medical treatment in order to be properly removed. There are also some alternative treatment methods, which can alleviate the symptoms, or, in mild cases, even help push the obstruction out of the drainage system:
The following homeopathic remedies may help improve some of the symptoms of a blocked tear duct:
There are no specific methods for preventing an obstruction in your eye's drainage system. However, the following tips may help you avoid a blocked tear duct:
Seek proper treatment for eye and nose infections: Since chronic infections, such as conjunctivitis and sinusitis, can increase your chances of developing blocked tear ducts, it is highly recommended to treat these conditions promptly so that the associated symptoms will subside.
Use protective eyewear when the situation requires it: By properly protecting your eyes you can avoid injury and trauma to the region, which can lead to an obstructed tear duct.
Avoid sharing makeup products with other people and replace them accordingly: Eye infections can be transmitted by sharing makeup products, such as mascara or eyeliner with other people. Moreover, eye-related infections can also appear as a result of using expired products, which may cause irritation and inflammation.
Maintain proper hygiene when using contact lenses and replace them regularly: Contact lenses can represent a favorable environment for bacteria. Thus, cleaning and replacing them appropriately can help prevent eye-related infections, which could cause a blocked tear duct
Are you experiencing symptoms associated with a blocked tear duct? The highly skilled doctors and surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital can answer questions, provide information, and suggest treatment options based on your specific medical condition.
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Shay Dean, M.D., F.A.C.S.See Profile »
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David Stoker, M.D.See Profile »
Jonathan Kanevsky, M.D., FRCSCSee Profile »
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Keith Marcus, M.D.See Profile »
Glenn Vallecillos, M.D., F.A.C.S.See Profile »
Samuel Liu, D.D.S.See Profile »
Randal D. Haworth, M.D., F.A.C.S.See Profile »
Cristiano Boneti, M.D.See Profile »
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Ashkan Ghavami, M.D.See Profile »
Omar N. Hussain, M.D.See Profile »
Daniel J. Gould, M.D.See Profile »
Ali A. Qureshi, M.D.See Profile »
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