Lacrimal Disease (Tearing disorders)
What is Lacrimal Disease?
Your natural tears are important for the health of your eyes. They wash away dust, and they keep your eyes lubricated. People with tearing problems either experience excessive tearing or dryness, which can be accompanied by burning, irritation, and blurred vision.
Lacrimal Disease affects the tear ducts and can produce symptoms of dry eye or excessive tearing. For most people, the dry eye symptoms are a minor irritant treated medically with tear drops.
Problems with the tear drainage ducts commonly cause tearing. An obstruction in the tear duct, for example, needs to be removed surgically. A deformity of the eyelid may also cause tear drainage problems. If you suffer from a tearing problem including lacrimal disease, contact our St. Louis, MO practice for treatment.
What Causes Tearing Problems?
Certain diseases like rosacea and rheumatoid arthritis can contribute to dryness, and menopause also contributes to dryness of the eyes. Ironically, dryness is sometimes the cause of excessive tears because the irritation causes the tear glands to reflexively produce excess tears. Allergies may also be a culprit with tearing complaints.
Tearing problems are also often caused by an obstruction in the tear duct which can develop as a result of aging, tumors, an injury, medications, or certain diseases. A malpositioned eyelid or tear duct opening can cause tearing complaints as well.
How long does a blocked tear duct last?
How long a tear duct remains blocked is dependent on several factors, including the cause of the blockage. For example, if the blockage occurs after an injury to the eye, the problem may resolve in a matter of weeks. If the blockage is structural, it may persist or recur until adequate treatment is performed. If you have symptoms of a blocked tear duct, it is beneficial to see an ophthalmologist sooner rather than later. A brief consultation and careful examination of your eye can help you understand the nature of the blockage and how to address it in the most conservative way possible.
What To Expect During Your Lacrimal Disease Consultation
When you arrive, you will need to provide a medical history, as we need to know about major illnesses and problems such as heart disease and hypertension. Prior surgery, especially facial surgery, is important. Medication history, including medications or supplements that thin the blood are vital to disclose. All over-the-counter pain/fever reducers (except Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are off limits for a week before eyelid surgery. Herbal medications such as ginkgo biloba and St. John’s Wort or high doses of fish oil, flax seed oil, or vitamin E must also be avoided.
Our team will ask you about the history of your tearing complaint and will examine you to determine if surgery is the right option for you. There may be other treatments that could correct your problem without surgery.
Surgery for Treating Lacrimal Disease
If you have a tear duct obstruction, it is opened during surgery and/or a new passage is created for your tears to drain properly. This kind of surgery is called DCR, which stands for dacryocystorhinostomy. If an eyelid deformity is the cause, this is corrected during your surgery, usually through tightening your eyelids. What happens in the surgery depends a great deal on what is preventing the tear ducts from functioning properly.
How do I prepare for Lacrimal Disease Treatment?
If you require surgery to enlarge a narrowed tear duct, you will be advised to avoid certain medications and supplements for a short time. Due to blood-thinning effects, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen should be avoided. Aspirin should also be avoided for one week prior to the procedure. If necessary, patients may take Tylenol or other acetaminophen products. Herbal supplements including ginkgo biloba and St. John’s Wort, higher doses of fish oil, flaxseed oil, and vitamin E should also be avoided.
Recovery After Lacrimal Disease Procedure
Recovery from lacrimal disease is related to the treatment that is necessary to improve tear production and drainage. If a patient has an infection that is treated with medication or eye drops, there is no recovery; tearing simply improves as the infection resolves. Patients who undergo surgery to correct a structural issue underlying lacrimal disease can expect some degree of post-operative bruising and swelling. These side effects may last approximately 10 days. Though they improve significantly within the first week, patients may want to arrange to have 2 weeks off work and other obligations.
What should I expect from my results?
Are There risks of Lacrimal Disease Surgery?
Can Lacrimal Disease go away on its own?
Yes. Some cases of lacrimal disease do resolve spontaneously over time. Rather than take a wait-and-see approach, however, it is wise to schedule a consultation with an ophthalmologist. This enables you to identify the origin of your blockage and ways to manage your tear production. This may be possible to do without surgery.
How do you stop the corner of your eyes from itching?
Itching may be a sign of lacrimal disease, an infected tear duct, pink eye, or other conditions. In order to stop this symptom, it is necessary to find its cause and treat it appropriately. In the short term, itching may be remedied by applying a warm compress to the eyes or using eye drops to manage dry eye. If there is any sign of infection, treatment should be sought right away, as the use of remedies could worsen the problem.