When the nasolacrimal duct that drains tears from the eyes to the nose gets blocked, the condition is known as a blocked tear duct. Let’s take a look at its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Also known as dacryostenosis or nasal duct obstruction, a blocked tear duct is a common condition observed in about 20-30% newborns. It is a temporary condition, which usually resolves with little or no treatment, by the time the child is a year old. Signs of this medical condition emerge during the first few weeks after birth, and may appear in one or both eyes. Moreover, this condition isn’t contagious.
What are the Causes of this Condition?
The function of the nasolacrimal duct is to drain tears secreted from the eyes into the nose. Sometimes, in newborns, this duct hasn’t developed completely, thereby, resulting in a blockage. The tears produced enter the nasolacrimal duct, however, because of the blockage they cannot drain out through the nose. Thus, they flood the eyes and result in trickling of tears. Infections, underdeveloped openings or closures in parts of the eye from where tears are drained, etc., are also some other factors that result in this condition. Moreover, abnormal growth of the nasal bone is also another reason, as it applies pressure on the nasolacrimal duct and closes it.
Symptoms that Develop
To be able to identify this condition, one needs to understand the different symptoms that may occur. They are as follows:
- Matting in the eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Eyes appear wet all the time
- Tears spill onto the cheek
- Redness around the eyes
- Mucus-like substance adhering to the eyelids
Redness of the eyes is usually due to the irritation caused by the salt content in the tears.
How to Treat it?
The blockage in the nasolacrimal duct is caused by a sheer membrane, which usually clears off on its own as the baby grows and attains 10-12 months of age. Meanwhile, to alleviate the condition, gentle application of pressure on the outer region of the nostrils, can help reduce the blockage. In fact, gentle massaging will also help. In case the condition persists even after the baby has completed a year, your health care provider may refer you to an ophthalmologist. Surgery is usually advised only in extreme cases.
This condition is not something to worry about, and will gradually clear off on its own. Just make sure you clean your child’s eyes regularly, and maintain hygienic conditions at all times.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.