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Blocked Tear Duct

Blocked Tear Duct

A blocked tear duct is a common problem in most of the newborn babies. It occurs in about 6 out of 100 babies. This article provides information about the various causes and symptoms of this condition.
Maya Pillai
The eye is exposed to various kinds of pollutants and dust constantly. Eyelids and eyelashes protect the eye and keep them moist. If the eye is not kept moist, the cornea would dry out and cause injury.
Tears frequently lubricate the eyes, and the eyelids help in moving tears across the eyes. The tear ducts, lacrimal and punctum, help in draining out the tears. They are situated on the lower and upper lids. Small tubes known as canaliculi are located at the inner corner of the eyelids. The tears enter the eye from the ducts through the canaliculi. The tears then pass into the lacrimal sac located between the nose and the eyes. The partial or complete blockage of the pathway that carries tears from the surface of the eye into the nose is known as a blocked tear duct.
Studies reveal that some children are born with blocked or clogged tear ducts or under-developed tear ducts. A blockage could cause infection in young children, however, if diagnosed at an early stage, it could be treated.
What is Blocked Tear Duct
Dacryostenosis or congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction is a condition that is present at the time of birth; this is the medical term for a blocked duct. When the tear duct is obstructed, it does not allow the tears to be drained from the eyes. This condition occurs mainly in newborns. Since there is no passage to drain off the tears, fluid accumulates in the tear sac. This may lead to inflammation and swelling in the eyes. If left untreated, it could lead to eye infection. Though tear duct blockage does not occur in adults, there are possibilities of it occurring in elderly people.
If the thin tissue at the end of the tear duct is not open at the time of birth, the newborn babies may experience this condition. 

Another cause in young children is the growth of an extra nasal bone. This abnormal growth may put pressure on the tear duct, and eventually close it.
If the corners of the eyes are not developed properly, this could lead to an obstruction of the tear duct. 

One of the causes in adults is the thickening of the lining of the tear duct. The other causes are sinus, injured bone and tissues around the region near the eyes, tumor growth, or untreated eye infections. 
Symptoms and Diagnosis
One of the early symptoms of this condition is the constant flow of tears. This symptom is observed in babies a few days after birth. Another symptom is swelling around the nose, and sometime, the eyes may turn red. If the upper respiratory tract is infected, there is a possiblility of this condition.
Medical examinations can reveal a block. Certain tests are conducted to check if the tears are drained from the eyes into the nose. Also, the production of tears can be measured.
A blocked or obstructed tear duct could be treated using antibiotics, and in certain complications, a surgery would be recommended. However, in newborns, it cures by itself without any treatment. To prevent an eye infection, the eyes of a baby should be cleaned frequently. Only if there are any signs of a swell or yellowish discharge is medical assistance required.