Blocked Tear Ducts

Blocked Tear Ducts

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  1. Have you noticed that your newborn’s eyes are frequently tearing up, weeping or oozing? It’s a fairly common occurence in babies known as a blocked tear duct. Although it happens for different reasons, it’s an easy fix.

    What is a Blocked Tear Duct?
    The nasolacrimal duct is the passage that lets tears drain from the eye into the nasal cavity. In some babies, this passage may become blocked. A significant percentage of babies are also born with a blocked tear duct resulting from a small membrane that blocks the opening.

    Will it Go Away?
    The first line of treatment for a blocked tear duct is usually a simple course of "wait and see". In many babies who are born with a blocked tear duct, the problem goes away on its own. As the infant grows and continues to develop, the membrane may shift, and the tear duct will open spontaneously. In most cases, the tear duct opens up by a baby’s first birthday.

    Is There a Treatment?
    Most doctors recommend a gentle massage to the tear duct area. Apply gentle pressure to the corner of the eye and rub in a circular motion. Massage can sometimes stimulate the tear duct to open up sooner.

    What About Surgical Treatment?
    If your baby’s tear ducts do not open on their own, they can be opened through a simple outpatient procedure called a probe and irrigation. Under general anesthesia, a small metal device is passed through the nasolacrimal duct to open the membrane.

    Doctors recommend keeping the eye clean and wiping away any discharge as necessary. If you notice excessive oozing or redness, consult your child’s doctor to rule out infection.

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