Clogged tear duct


The tear duct opens into two small openings on the inner edge of the upper and lower lids of the eyes and allows tear fluid to drain away, which exceeds the amount required for normal moisturizing of the eyes. This tear fluid then runs off into the nasal cavity, which is why one literally howls “snot and water”, because when crying, the tear fluid runs off the nose.

Read more about the topic here: Lacrimal drainage disorders

Recognizing a blocked tear duct

What are the symptoms of a blocked tear duct?

Clogging of the tear duct is more common in women than men, and sufferers complain of constant watery eyes. By laying the natural drainage system of overproduced tear fluid through the nose, the tears then seek another path and thus flow through the cheek and face for outsiders to see. This puts a lot of stress on those affected, after all, to other people it looks like they cry a lot.
Some of the fluid runs into the tear sack at the beginning of the tear duct, but cannot flow further to the nose because this path is blocked. In this way, the fluid remains in the eye sac for a long time, where it would normally only be for a short time, and infections often develop. This usually results in painful swelling of the inner corner of the eye and / or inflamed discharge from the eyes.

Read more on the subject at: Eye infections

Treating a blocked tear duct

How is a blocked tear duct treated?

In newborns, up to the first year of life, the blockage of the tear duct can be opened by itself through regular light massage of the points.
In those cases in which the obstruction of the tear duct has not opened, an opening of the tear duct through surgery is possible in adults. In newborn babies, up to the first year of life, the blockage in the tear duct can be opened by regular massage of yourself towards the nose, so that excessive tear fluid can drain off regularly.

Which medications can help?

Medication can be used for a blockage of the tear duct. This is especially the case if an infection is the trigger for the symptoms. Especially in adults, an eye infection can temporarily obstruct the tear duct and thus lead to blockage. Especially when there is a bacterial inflammation, eye drops containing antibiotics can be used. Other eye drops that help relieve irritation to the eye will also help. If medication and massage of the tear ducts cannot eliminate the symptoms, surgical therapy may also be necessary.

When does a blocked tear duct need to be operated on?

If conservative therapeutic measures do not bring the desired results in the case of obstruction of the tear ducts, an operation must be performed in most cases. Various surgical methods can be used to create a functioning drainage path between the lacrimal duct and the inferior turbinate, so that the tear congestion can be eliminated. Which method is ultimately used depends on the one hand on the cause of the obstruction of the tear duct, on the other hand on the condition or age of the patient and the experience of the attending physician.

In children, a so-called tear duct intubation under general anesthesia is usually sufficient, whereby a thin silicone tube is inserted into the tear ducts from the outside and placed, which keeps them permanently open and prevents re-clogging, collapsing or sticking. If the trigger in newborns is the lacrimal duct closed by a fold of the mucous membrane, this can also be probed and opened under general anesthesia with a catheter.
Another surgical method, but more commonly used in adults, is the endonasal lacrimal duct surgery, in which a piece of the bone lamella between the lacrimal sac and nasal cavity is removed through the nose and a drain-free opening of the lacrimal ducts is created. This procedure is also performed under general anesthesia.

A somewhat less invasive surgical procedure is the endoscopic removal of the outflow problem, whereby the surgeon first inserts an instrument with a small camera into the tear ducts in order to assess the circumstances there. In a subsequent step, the causes can be remedied using additional instruments: here, too, a silicone tube or a plastic tube can be inserted, but lacrimal duct structures can also be enlarged and opened using a balloon expanding in the canal, a micro-drill or laser become.

After an inflammation of the lacrimal gland has already passed, an external surgical access is usually preferred, whereby the skin and the lacrimal sac at the inner corner of the eye are opened under general anesthesia and an artificial connection to the turbinate is established. In most cases, the tear duct obstruction remains permanently resolved after any of the surgical methods listed and the symptoms do not appear. In a few cases, however, it can also be reclosed. After the operation, care should be taken to avoid blowing the nose for several days and avoiding strong physical exertion.

The blocked tear duct is treated surgically. During the operation, a free transition is created between the tear sac and the nasal cavity. In some cases, a silicone tube is inserted into the tear duct to prevent re-obstruction of the tear duct after the operation. After two months, the procedure has healed enough that the silicone tube can be removed again.
The success rate of this surgical treatment of the blocked tear duct is very high.

Which home remedies can help?

The tear duct plays an important role in regulating fluid in the eye. If it is blocked, the eye can water or burn and be reddened. However, medication does not have to be taken directly against the blocked tear duct. Rather, there are some home remedies that can also alleviate the symptoms.

Especially in babies and small children, the tear ducts in one or both eyes are occasionally blocked. Regular massage of the affected tear duct can help here. The symptoms also occur occasionally in adults. Here, too, the tear ducts can be massaged, but the therapy is not always as effective as it is with babies.

However, warm compresses can help against the blocked tear duct. These can relieve the discomfort of the irritated eye. The best way to do this is to take a cloth and briefly put it in warm (not too hot!) Water. Then you put the cloth over your eyes (or just over one affected side) for about twenty minutes. The warmth of the compress can promote blood circulation in the affected area and, if necessary, widen the tear duct a little.

An eyewash can also help with a blocked tear duct. According to grandma’s house recipes, such rinses are particularly effective when carried out with lukewarm water or lukewarm black tea. The nose can also be rinsed with a saline solution (Emser salt, NaCl 0.9%). The tear duct ends in the nose, so that the cause of the blockage can also lie there. If necessary, this can be reversed with a nasal rinse. Other methods of warming the eye can also help. Care should be taken to ensure that it is moist and warm, such as a warm eye shower.

Which Schüssler salts help to treat a blocked tear duct?

You can try to solve the problem with the help of Schüssler salts. The salts number 9 are particularly suitable for this (Sodium phosphoricum) and number 12 (Calcium sulfuricum). You should also seek advice from a pharmacist, alternative practitioner or doctor before taking homeopathic remedies.If the obstruction of the tear duct does not go away, a doctor should be consulted who will treat the obstruction with conventional medical measures.

What homeopathic remedies can help with a blocked tear duct?

First of all, in addition to home remedies for the blocked tear duct, homeopathic remedies can also be used to alleviate the symptoms. For example, eyebright (Euphrasia offcinalis) can be used in the form of eye drops. Another homeopathic option is the use of Silicea D12 Globuli against the blocked tear duct.

Preventing a blocked tear duct

What causes a blocked tear duct?

Clogging of the tear duct results from a number of different causes. On the one hand, the tear duct can be blocked at birth. In this case, malformations of the tear duct are usually the cause. The tear duct can be underdeveloped at birth or deviate from the norm. But structural deviations of the face or skull in newborns can also predispose to blocked tear ducts.

In the course of life, however, blocked tear ducts are mostly caused by other triggers. Infection or inflammation of the tear ducts, glands, eyes or even the nose are often responsible for this. Likewise, a blockage in the tear duct can cause inflammation and worsen the symptoms.

This can also happen through injuries to the face. For example, the result of trauma to the eyes, as occurs when a fist hits the face. In addition, the tear duct can become blocked by small stones or tumors. After all, blockages become more common, especially in old age, as the tear ducts narrow as part of the physiological aging process.

Read more about the topic here: Tear duct stenosis

Clogged tear duct in newborns and babies

How are clogged tear ducts treated in babies?

A blockage or blockage of the tear duct can have various causes (malformations, injuries, infections) and usually results in an inflammation of the tear sac (Dacryocystitis). Newborns and toddlers are predisposed to this condition because in many cases the tear ducts are not fully developed after birth. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that the systems for the duct system in the embryonic / fetal development only begin and are completed relatively late (only after the 5th-6th months of development) and, on the other hand, the lacrimal ducts often do not appear after birth have a functioning opening towards the nose (congenital stenosis). This phenomenon can be observed in approx. 6% of newborns and arises from the fact that the mouth of the tear duct into the inferior turbinate is formed by a fold of the mucous membrane (Hasner flap) is closed.

This functional closure is physiological in the prenatal phase in the womb, whereby the valve usually opens spontaneously with the onset of childbirth. However, if this opening does not occur, the result is a disturbed drainage of the tear fluid through the nose, so that it drains over the edge of the eyelid or the face instead. From a statistical point of view, a persistence of the mucosal folds after birth is observed more frequently in male premature births and cesarean sections. Due to the build-up of the tear fluid, there is also an increased risk of a colonization of bacteria and a resulting inflammation of the lacrimal gland.

Read more on the topic: Reddened eyes in children and babies

How are newborn babies treated with blocked tear ducts?

Statistically speaking, children born with an obstruction of the tear duct are mostly male, premature births and / or cesarean sections. Typical symptoms are sticky, constantly watering eyes.

The reason for the blockage of the tear ducts in newborns is that the formation of the tear duct completes during development in the mother's womb at a very late point in time, relatively shortly before birth. If this developmental step has not yet been completed and the child is already being born, there is still a thin membrane where there is a hole between the tear sac and nose in fully developed babies. In the affected babies, the tear fluid cannot drain through the nasopharynx, stagnates in the tear sac and runs down the face.

Usually the tear duct opens up towards the nose after a while. This process can be supported by suitable eye drops prescribed by the ophthalmologist, as well as by massaging the inner corners of the eyes and the transition to the nose from the outside. If the obstruction of the tear duct has not improved by the child's 12th - 18th month, a catheter is inserted from the upper opening of the tear duct under general anesthesia and the obstruction is opened up to the nasal cavity with a tip. This procedure takes about 3 minutes and with 95% it is a very reliably successful procedure.

Massage of the tear duct in babies

Babies are particularly likely to suffer from obstruction of the tear ducts after birth. The composition of the amniotic fluid can play a role here. In addition, babies are covered in what is known as cheese smear immediately after birth. It is a thick paste that is formed by the body to protect the baby immediately before and during the birth. If something of the cheese smear gets into the eye, it can temporarily clog the tear duct.
Occasionally the baby's tear ducts are not completely open. This allows small membranes (very thin layers of skin) to remain in the tear duct, which only loosen over time. Regular massage of the tear ducts can remove stubborn residues of the amniotic fluid or the cheese smear there and thus alleviate the baby's symptoms. The massage should be performed several times a day. Symptoms usually improve after a few days to weeks.