Blocked Tear Ducts

Blocked tear ducts, also known by the medical term "nasolacrimal duct obstructions," are very common in children and infants. When a tear duct system hasn’t fully developed, it can lead to blockage, excessive tearing and infection. Many cases of blocked tear ducts clear by themselves during the first year of life.

What are symptoms of blocked tear ducts?

Symptoms of a blockage include an overflow of tears, as well as red, swollen eyelids, and possibly a yellowish-green discharge from a build-up of bacteria in the tears.

How are blocked tear ducts diagnosed and treated?

If the tear duct obstruction does not resolve by itself, one or more of the following treatments may resolve the issue:

  • tear duct massage
  • topical antibiotic eye drops
  • tear duct probing 
  • balloon tear duct dilation
  • tear duct intubation

Sometimes if a blockage is severe, a doctor might recommend tear duct obstruction surgery.