Are Those Symptoms from a Blocked Tear Duct?

To the average person, tears happen when we’re sad or happy. To the ophthalmologist, tears are foundational to eye health. Physically, the glands of the eyes produce tears all day, every day. The tear system is integral to comfort when we blink and also to vision. If tear production is interrupted, serious consequences may occur. At Ophthalmic Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery in St. Louis and St. Peters, we use advanced diagnostic techniques to determine if unpleasant symptoms are caused by a blocked tear duct. Here, we discuss how you can tell when it is time to contact us for a consultation and examination.

How the Tear System Works

The lacrimal system that controls tear production has several components. Tears are released by the lacrimal glands that sit at the upper area of each eye. Tiny ducts deliver tears to the ocular surface. The tears get distributed over the eyes when we blink. Some of the tear film evaporates. Excess, along with any debris that is cleansed from the eyes, drains through the puncta, tiny openings at the inner corners of the eyes. A blocked tear duct prevents tears from draining through the puncta. This lack of proper drainage could result in excessive tearing.

Causes of a Blocked Tear Duct

Studies indicate that approximately 20% of newborns experience a blocked tear duct. When children or adults experience this condition, we need to find out why. The causes of blocked tear ducts can be addressed with conservative medical care.

One reason for tear-duct blockage is a physical obstacle. A tiny piece of debris in the eye is all it takes to obstruct a tear duct. Other obstructions include growths or injuries to the eye or nose. Some medical treatments may cause tear duct blockage. A duct may become obstructed due to infection, as well. An ophthalmologist performs a comprehensive consultation and eye exam to find the obstruction and its cause so appropriate treatment can be administered.

How is a Blocked Tear Duct Treated?

Treatment for a blocked tear duct depends on the cause. This may involve removing a foreign object like a spec of debris, treating an infection, or unclogging the duct and securing the proper structure to keep drainage channels open.

Might You Have a Blocked Tear Duct?

If tears do not drain properly, symptoms such as the following may occur:

  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Grittiness
  • Redness
  • Excessive watering
  • Blurry vision
  • Waking up with “crusty” eyelids

Tear production and drainage are essential to comfort and function. Contact our St. Louis or St. Peters office to learn more about tear duct problems and treatment.

Posted in: Tearing Problems

Request An Appointment

  • * All indicated fields must be completed.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

St. Louis, MO 314-567-3567