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.

A to Z: Cellulitis, Orbital

A to Z: Cellulitis, Orbital

Orbital cellulitis is a serious infection that affects the eye and its surrounding tissue and skin. It's more common in children than adults.

More to Know

The condition is often caused by bacteria that spread from a sinus infection or bacteria that enter through direct trauma to the eye.

People with orbital cellulitis may experience painful swelling and discoloration of the eyelids, poor vision, eye pain, difficulty moving the eye, and fever. It's important to see a doctor as soon as symptoms appear because the condition progresses quickly and can cause serious complications such as blindness, meningitis, and blood or brain infections.

People with orbital cellulitis are admitted to the hospital for treatment so doctors can run diagnostic tests, give antibiotics through a vein, and monitor patients closely. In some cases surgery is necessary to drain fluid from the infected area and relieve pressure. A full recovery can be expected if treatment starts quickly.

Keep in Mind

You can help prevent orbital cellulitis by making sure you and your family members get vaccinated to help prevent certain infections and treat all infections at their earliest onset. See your doctor immediately if there is eye swelling, eye pain, and fever.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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Date reviewed: August 11, 2016