How to treat a blocked tear duct

Written by angela james
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Blocked tear ducts occur when the fluid that prevents the eyes from drying out, otherwise known as tears, does not drain properly through the tiny lacrimal ducts, which are located at the inner corner of each eye, into the nose. As a result of the blockage, tears continually flow from the eyes. Yellowish-white mucus can sometimes accompany the constant tearing, making it difficult to open the eyelids in the morning after the mucus has crushed the eyes shut. Luckily, there are several ways to successfully treat blocked tear ducts.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Antibiotic drops
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antibiotic medication

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    Treatment for Children

  1. 1

    Give it time to heal. Babies are often born with blocked tear ducts. In many cases, no treatment is needed to tend to this condition. As long as the eye is kept clean, it should heal on its own within the first year of life.

  2. 2

    Try massage. If your baby's blocked tear duct appears to be getting worse with each passing day, you can try to speed the healing process by gently massaging the inner corner of each eye several times per day to loosen the blockage.

  3. 3

    Seek medical advice. See your child's paediatrician if large amounts of mucus begin draining from the eye, as this may signal that infection is present. The paediatrician will most likely prescribe antibiotic ointment or drops which should heal the condition quickly.

  4. 4

    Attempt a probing procedure. Your child's paediatrician may suggest trying to probe the tear duct with a very thin wire to remove the blockage. This is usually performed under general anaesthesia in a hospital and afterward it may take several days to heal the problem.

  5. 5

    Try surgery as a last resort. If all of the above methods prove unsuccessful, your child's paediatrician will likely try to perform surgery to fix this problem permanently.

    Treatment for Adults

  1. 1

    Discover the cause. Blocked tear ducts are very rarely found in adults. When they do occur, it is important to discover exactly what caused the blocked tear duct in order to be able to properly treat it.

  2. 2

    See your doctor to get a prescription for antibiotics. The majority of adult cases are caused by infection and will easily clear up with a course of antibiotics.

  3. 3

    Seek surgery. When infection is not the cause, the other main causes include either abnormal growths or structural changes in the tear duct, both of which can be treated through surgical procedures.

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