As you may know, our eyes are constantly replenished with tears, to keep our eyes lubricated and healthy all while helping us see clearly. Because of this constant hydration system, our eyes require tear ducts to drain old tears and any foreign particles that may enter our eyes.
Sometimes these ducts become blocked and are unable to drain the eyes properly, which results in watery, irritated eyes. There are no reasons for concern, clogged tear ducts are almost always correctable, and more annoying than painful.
Often common in newborns, and are typically outgrown during the first several months of life, blocked tear ducts in adults are often a result of outside contributing factors, such as injury, underlying medical cause or treatment. Below we will discuss some of the common symptoms you can expect to experience, causes, and treatment options available.
Common Symptoms of Blocked Tear Duct
While some people will experience all of these symptoms, some may only experience a few. If you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms, the likely culprit could be a blockage in your tear duct.
- Watery eyes and extreme tearing
- Chronic eye infection or inflammation that does not go away with medication
- Swelling or puffiness near the inside corner of the eye or eyelid
- Development of a crust along the eyelid
- Mucus or pus discharge coming from the tear duct or lids
- Blurred vision, typically from excessive tearing
These symptoms are all strong indicators of a potentially clogged tear duct. There are a few situations in which you should see you eye doctor immediately and they are: several days of extreme tearing or repeat infections. These could be related to a cancerous tumor that is pressing on the tear drainage system.
Common Causes of Blocked Tear Duct
For those that suffer from blocked tear ducts, there are several causes that could explain the condition. As mentioned above, newborns often suffer from blocked tear ducts but outgrown them quickly. Blocked tear ducts can happen at any age and for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are:
- Congenital - the reason that newborns frequently suffer from block tear ducts is that when they are born, their tear drainage systems may not be fully formed. Another cause in infants is that a thin membrane can sometimes cover the duct opening.
- Aging - as we age, the tiny duct openings become smaller, which can result in easier blockages.
- Infection/Inflammation - infection often causes inflammation, which contributes to blocking tear ducts, but also infection can produce mucus or pus that will cause blockages as well.
- Injury/Trauma - forceful impacts can cause swelling, scarring or even bone damage that can disrupt the tear drainage system. Sometimes eyelashes, dirt, makeup or other foreign debris will end up clogging a tear duct.
- Tumor - as mentioned above, tumors are a serious condition that can result in tear duct blockages by closing off the drainage system.
- Medications/Treatments - certain eyedrops (especially those used to treat glaucoma) can cause tear ducts to become blocked. Also, a common side effect for chemotherapy and radiation treatments are blocked tear ducts.
The Treatment of Blocked Tear Duct
When it comes to treating and unblocking tear ducts, there are several treatments used, and it all depends on the underlying cause of the blockage. From hot/wet compresses to tear duct probing and intubation, tear ducts are almost always treated successfully. So, there is relatively little concern of a serious problem, but if your blocked tear ducts persist, seek professional medical help immediately.
Sometimes, as a result of improperly functioning tear ducts, other glands within the eyelids become blocked or clogged. When this happens, the natural production of healthy tears suffers and can cause dry eyes. At Diamond Vision, we are proud to offer LipiFlow to our patients who suffer from dry eyes syndrome, as a result of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD).
If you suffer from chronic dry eyes and are looking for a solution, contact us, today, to schedule your free consultation, and learn more about how we can help!