Blocked Tear Ducts
Excessive Tearing due to Blocked Tear Ducts
Tears are naturally created by the lacrimal gland to lubricate the eyeball. When you blink, these tears are spread over the surface to keep it moist and healthy while excess lubrication is emptied into the tear duct and drained into your nose. If the tear duct is blocked, your tears back up and spill over your eyelids as if you are crying. Over time, the constant overflow can cause a mucous discharge, eye irritation and painful swelling in the corners of the eye. Blockage can also cause an infection within the duct itself.
There are several treatment options available, and the right one will depend on an analysis of your symptoms. By irrigating the affected duct, your surgeon will determine the degree of blockage. In some cases, applying warm compresses and antibiotics will relieve the blockage; however, surgical intervention is the most effective treatment.
A common surgical solution is a dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) in which small incision is made on the side of the nose and some bone is removed to make a new connection to the nose. Drains may left behind to prevent the gap from closing and are removed after a few months. A Jones or Crawford Tube is placed to facilitate the flow of tears from the eye to the nose.
A DCR is normally performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia with sedation. Recovery time is about one week for all bruising and swelling to subside. There is minimal discomfort.