Blocked Tear Ducts

About Blocked Tear Duct:

Blocked tear ducts is an eye condition that results in watery eyes. When your tear ducts are blocked, tears cannot drain out of your eyes. As a result, the tears build up in your eyes, making them very watery. This condition is most common in newborns, young children, and older people (above the age of 60).


The block in the tear duct can be caused by:

  • Ageing – as we get older, the tear duct openings may get narrower
  • Inflammation
  • Eye injury
  • Tumors

In some cases, newborn babies may be born with unopened tear ducts.

The symptoms are:

  • Lots of tears or discharge from the eyes
  • Swelling near the inner corners of the eye (where the tear ducts are located)
  • Inflammation
  • Eye redness

Blocked tear ducts can affect your quality of life. You must get them treated, especially if you have other eye conditions. Luckily, the condition is treatable. The exact treatment will depend on what caused the blocked tear duct. It could include:

  • Medication to treat an infection
  • Special tear duct massage (mainly for babies)
  • Probing – using a thin rod to open the tear ducts in children
  • Tubes to drain the tears through the nose

A very common surgery is dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). It is the only way to treat the tear duct block completely, since medications and massages may only treat the underlying cause without fixing the block. This surgery can reopen the tear duct. During the surgery, you will be given an anesthetic so you don’t feel anything. There are two main types of DCR: External and Laser.

External DCR:

External DCR is when the surgeon makes a small cut near the swelling on the side of your nose. A small tube may be inserted to connect the tear duct to the nose cavity. The cut is then sealed with a few stitches.

Laser DCR:

This is a newer method. A very thin tube is poked through the blocked opening of the tear duct until it reaches the bone between the tear duct and the nose. A tiny wire is passed through this tube. Once the wire reaches the bone, a strong laser is turned on. This laser cuts through the bone, creating a new opening for the tear duct.

External vs. Laser DCR:

Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

External DCRLaser DCR
Surgery takes longer to completeSurgery only lasts a few minutes
May leave a small visible scar on the side of the noseNo need for stitches, so there is no scar or external wound
A small pack is placed in the nose for a day . This can be uncomfortablePacks are not placed in the nose.
Very good resultsRelatively new method with inconsistent results. Lower success rate
General anesthetic or local anesthetic injection is given. During general anesthetic, you will be asleepLocal anesthetic cream is applied. You will be awake, but will not feel pain
Second surgery is rarely neededSecond surgery is often required