Blocked Tear Duct
Abnormal or overflow tearing is a very common condition in infants and occurs in nearly 5% of children shortly after birth. The most common cause is a thin membrane at the end of the tear drainage system that has not opened properly and blocks the drainage of tears into the nose. A blockage of the tear drainage system can lead to chronic or reccurent eye infections.
Tears normally drain through two small holes on the upper and lower eyelids near the nose, called the upper and lower punctae. The tears pass through the cannaliculus and combine in the lacrimal sac. From there they pass through the nasolacrimal duct into the nose.
Nearly 70 to 90% of tear duct blockages clear spontaneously by 12 months of age. In the interim, your primary care physician or pediatric ophthalmologist may recommend lacrimal sac massage and/or antibiotic medications. Lacrimal sac massage is performed by applying pressure on the inner corner of the infant's eye next to the nose, and rolling down the side of the nose.
If a tear duct blockage persists, a surgical procedure to open up any blockage may be necessary. In this procedure a thin, metal probe is passed through the drainage system and used to open any obstruction.