Blocked Tear Duct

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Blocked Tear Duct (Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction)

Gentle, Expert Care for Your Baby’s Eyes

Young boy with a blocked tear duct (nasolacrimal duct obstruction) visits a Nemours eye specialist for expert care.

The body’s lacrimal (tear duct) system is made up of glands and ducts that work with our eyelids and lashes to keep our eyes from drying out. When tear ducts are too narrow or blocked, tears can’t drain the way they should. That makes the eyes water a lot, swell or even become infected. Since many babies are born with a tear duct system that isn’t fully developed, a blocked tear duct tends to happen most often in infants.

If your child has a blocked tear duct (also called “congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction”), we can show you how to take care of the affected eye and prevent infection. If it doesn’t get better on its own, our pediatric eye experts at Nemours can treat this very common condition in kids.

Learn More About Blocked Tear Ducts and Surgery

Blocked Tear Duct Services We Offer

For a blocked tear duct, we start with the simplest options. Your child’s care may include massage (using gentle motions around the eye to help open the duct) or giving topical antibiotic eye drops (medication to treat infection).

If your child needs surgery, it may involve:

  • probing — gently inserting a thin surgical probe to open a blocked duct 
  • balloon dilation — inserting a thin tube with a tiny balloon to widen the tear duct
  • intubation — threading a tiny tube through the tear ducts to the inside of the nose to help babies with severe blockage

Whatever kind of treatment your child needs, our expert eye care team knows how to help kids feel relaxed and comfortable during treatments. A Child Life specialist can even use play and distraction to make exams and treatment less scary for babies and young children.

Why Choose Us for Blocked Tear Duct Care

Your baby’s eyes deserve the best possible care. At Nemours, our pediatric ophthalmologists are experts in treating blocked tear ducts. Many of our board-certified and fellowship-trained eye doctors are recognized as “Best Doctors in America® ” each year.

We perform state-of-the-art operations, when appropriate, to treat and repair kids’ eyes. We’re also active in research to find better ways to treat kids' eye problems. And, for children with more than one health need, you can often see several doctors on the same day, in the same place.

Regional Blocked Tear Duct Highlights 

Services, programs and care teams differ at each location. Call for details.

Find specialists experienced in blocked tear duct care at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware (Wilmington, Del.) and select satellite Nemours Children's Health locations. 

  • medical and surgical services from fellowship-trained pediatric ophthalmologists 
  • special sensitivity to the challenges and anxiety kids with neurodevelopmental conditions (like autism) may have during eye exams
  • part of a multicenter collaborative network, the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group, working with children’s eye care experts nationwide to research eye disorders

Find specialists experienced in blocked tear duct care at Nemours Children’s Hospital (Orlando) and select Nemours Children’s Specialty Care satellite locations. 

  • ophthalmologist and certified orthoptist (an eye movement and diagnostic specialist) who are trained to diagnose and treat blocked tear duct in kids of all ages, including those with developmental disabilities and physical limitations
  • community vision screening program, working with our Healthy Choices Clinic and the Nemours Florida Prevention Initiative, offered to preschools and Head Start programs in Seminole County, Kissimmee and other areas of Central Florida

Find specialists experienced in blocked tear duct care at Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville, and select satellite locations.

  • care team that delivers complete eye care for kids — ophthalmologists, experienced eye technicians and a pediatric optometrist (who provides care similar to ophthalmologists, but doesn’t perform surgery)
  • part of a multicenter collaborative network, the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group, working with national kids’ eye care experts to research eye disorders
  • special training program developed by our pediatric eye experts to teach primary care doctors how to perform effective eye exams for kids from birth to age 5

Research & Clinical Trials

At Nemours, we’re actively researching new approaches for childhood disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

KidsHealth Library

Learn more about your child’s medical condition from the experts at Nemours’ KidsHealth.