There are a variety of causes for tear duct, or lacrimal duct, obstructions. The most common is aging changes, although infection, inflammatory disorders, medications, and tumors can be at fault. Blockages of the tear drainage ducts can result in excessive tearing, mucous discharge, irritation, swelling, pain, and infection. Babies can be born with blocked nasolacrimal ducts, causing tearing, eyelash crusting, and mucous discharge. Many times, babies will outgrow the blockage in the first nine to 12 months of life. If they remain obstructed, surgery is recommended at around one year of age.
how an obstructed tear duct is treated or repaired
We will determine whether your blockage is severe enough for surgery and which procedure is most appropriate. The most common blockage is within the nasolacrimal duct, which normally drains tears into the nose. If the blockage is complete, dacryocystorhinstomy (DCR) surgery is performed to bypass the duct and create a new passageway from the lacrimal sac to the nose. Partial nasolacrimal duct blockages can be treated by dilating the duct and placing a temporary stent through the system. In a small percentage of patients, the blockage will be of the puncta or canaliculi. Depending on the severity and extent of the blockage, we will perform a variety of different procedures to fix or bypass the tear ducts.
Lacrimal duct surgeries are performed as an outpatient procedure. Patients generally have minimal bruising or swelling and notice an improvement in their tearing within one to two weeks. DCR surgery has a greater than 90% success rate.