What is a blocked tear duct and how is it treated?
When you blink, a tear film spreads over the eye making the surface smooth and clear. The tear film is made up of three distinct layers. An oily layer, a watery layer and a mucous layer. Each layer is needed for the tear film to keep our eyes moist.
Tears protect the eyes and keep them moist and healthy. Tears come from the conjunctiva which is the clear tissue over the white of the eye, and from the lacrimal glands. These glands are located above each eye. The tears flow across the surface of your eye and drain through tiny holes called puncta. Puncta are in the corners of your upper and lower eyelids near the nose. The tears then travel through tiny passages in the eyelids. They eventually go into the nasal lacrimal duct before emptying into your nose; this is why your nose runs when you cry. When the tear drainage system is either partly or completely blocked, tears cannot drain normally. The eye becomes watery and irritated it can also be constantly infected.
A blocked tear duct can be due to:
There are many treatment options for blocked tear ducts including:
- Tear Duct Probing and Flushing
- Balloon Catheter Dilation
- Stenting and Intubation
- External and Endoscopic DCR
DCR Options for Blocked Tear Ducts
Commonly performed to treat blocked tear ducts, Community Eye Center offers dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) surgery options. DCR is a procedure which opens the passageway for tears to drain properly out of the nose again. Patients are provided with general anesthesia or local anesthesia if the procedure is performed in an outpatient setting.
External Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR)
External DCR is surgery that creates a new pathway for tears to drain from the eye when the tear duct is blocked. The surgeon will make a small incision near the inside corner of the eye. He or she will then create a new opening directly from the eye’s lacrimal sack into the nasal cavity to allow tears to drain. A surgical adhesive or stitches are used to close the incision and a tubelike stent may be used temporarily to keep the new drain from closing up while healing. The tube can be removed later in the physician’s office or outpatient surgery center.
Endoscopic Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR)
Endoscopic DCR surgically creates a new pathway for tears to drain from the eye when the tear duct is blocked. The surgeon will insert a slender tube called an endoscope into your nasal cavity. He or she will then create a new opening directly from the eyes lacrimal sack into the nasal cavity to allow tears to drain. A flexible tube called a stent may be put in place temporarily to keep the new drain from closing up while healing. The tube can be removed later in the physician’s office or outpatient surgery center.
Community Eye Center offers treatment options for blocked tear ducts, including External and Endoscopic Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR).