A number of symptoms can arise from tear duct obstruction or infections caused by the blockage. These include:
Tear ducts become blocked for a variety of reasons.
Congenital blockage: As many as one-fifth of infants are born with blocked ducts. This might be because of underdeveloped or abnormal ducts, or because of developmental issues in the structure of the face and skull.
Narrowing of ducts with age: As adults age, the openings of tear ducts can narrow, increasing the likelihood of tear duct obstruction.
Infection and inflammation: Infections and inflammations of the tear ducts, eyes and nose can all cause blocked tear ducts. Tear duct blockage can itself also cause infection and inflammation.
Facial injuries and trauma: Any injuries that affect the tear ducts or the bone structure surrounding them can lead to blocked tear ducts.
Tumours, cysts, and stones: Blocked tear ducts can also arise from tumours and other growths.
The best way to treat blocked tear ducts depends on what’s causing the blockage.
Here are some common methods of treatment for blocked tear ducts.
Blocked tear ducts in infants
With many infants, blocked tear ducts disappear on their own within the first year. However, there are cases where treatment is necessary. The first method of treatment for blocked tear ducts in infants involves dilation (a gentle opening of the duct), probing and irrigation. Sometimes insert an expandable balloon to further dilate the ducts.
Blocked tear ducts in adults
Blocked tear ducts in adults are usually a sign of narrowing or other issues that don’t resolve on their own. The first course of treatment is the same as that for babies: dilation, probing and irrigation.
Stenting and intubation, where a tube is inserted to keep the lacrimal duct open, is a surgical option for cases that don’t respond to less invasive treatment.