Congenital Nasolacrimal Duct Blockage

What is a blocked nasolacrimal duct?

The tears that moisturize your eye drain through a tiny opening in the corner of your eye. The liquid enters your nose, where your body absorbs and disposes of it.

A blocked tear duct is a full or partial obstruction (blockage) in the nasal (nose) passageways that drain tears. If you have a blocked tear duct, your eyes may be itchy, irritated and watery.

How does the tear system work?

Usually, the tear system keeps your eyes slightly wet but not too watery.

Your tear system has three parts:

  • Lacrimalglands createtears.
  • Puncta are small openings at your eye corner where tears flow out.
  • Nasolacrimal ducts connect to the puncta and drain the rest of your tear fluid into the nose.

What are the symptoms of a blockedtear duct in infants?

Babies don’t start making tears until they are a few weeks old. You may not notice a blocked tear duct in a newborn right away. As babies get older, blocked tear duct symptoms might include:

  • Redness around the eye, usually from your baby rubbing the eye.
  • Tears draining down the baby’s cheek instead of out of the eye corner.
  • Tears pooling near the corner of the eye but not draining.
  • Yellowish discharge or mucus in the baby’s eye

What is the treatment for a blocked tear duct in babies?

Often, a blocked tear duct in a newborn resolves without treatment. In the first few months of life, the baby’s tear ducts may mature and get rid of the blockage.

Sometimes, a baby still has a small piece of tissue blocking the flow of tears inside the nose. Your baby’s provider may teach you a special eyelid massage technique. This massage helps open the tissue so tears can drain as they should.

If a watch-and-wait approach does not work, providers may use dilation and flushing, balloon catheters or stents. These treatments work the same way in babies as they do in adults. However, eye doctors use general anesthesia to keep babies still and calm during the procedure.

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