Tear Duct Blockage in Babies Treatment | Nasolacrimal Obstruction Surgery

Tear Duct Blockage or "Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction" is a common problem found in newborns. More than 5% newborn have this condition either in one eye or both. This problem can also happen in adults due to some medical reasons. Most of the people get worried if this problem affect the vision as the eye remain constantly watery due to tear duct blockage. Before understanding this medical condition we need to understand the tear duct mechanism.

Mechanism behind Tears and Tear Duct

Our eyes need constant supply of water to keep them wet. This water comes from Lacrimal Gland (also known as Tear Gland) located just above the eyelid. It secretes water into our eye. Our Eyelids work as the wiper and it not only evenly spreads the water on the surface of eye but also cleans it. Then this water goes into our nose through the Nasolacrimal Duct ( also known as Tear Duct). Then this water keeps our nose wet from inside and captures the dust in the air we are breathing in. Thus our tears solve two purpose in go. They clean our eyes and filters the air we are breathing in.

Why do Newborn have tear duct blockage ?

5 to 20 percent of newborns have tear duct blockage either in one eye or both. This percentage varies by race and location. There is a thin membrane at the both ends on the tear duct. Usually it opens on its own after birth, but in some cases it doesn't or just opens partially. Mostly it is nothing to worry about as in most of the cases the condition is resolved automatically within a year. It can cause watery eyes with conjunctivitis like symptoms and white or yellow discharge in eyes. This condition becomes notable only after two weeks of birth. Till 2 weeks there is not enough tear formation by tear gland to make eyes watery.

Treatment for Tear Duct Blockage in Newborns

Usually doctors suggest massaging the skin between eye and nose with mild pressure. They also prescribe a few eye drops and asks you to clear up any discharge in the eyes on regular basis. Any advice from the doctor should be followed. If the blockage is not cleared then doctor may suggest a minor surgery after the baby reaches the age of 6 months or a year.

Why do adults have tear duct blockage ?

There are several reasons behind tear duct blockage in adults.
  • It can happen due to some infection in eye or nose.
  • It can also happen as a result of some surgery of nasal region.
  • Sometimes it may be a hereditary problem when a nasal bone grows more and obstructs the path of Tear Duct.

Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction Surgery

This surgery is recommended only if the doctor finds that massage therapy is not working to clear the obstruction. If the obstruction is not due to any infection then balloon catheter dilation is used for the treatment of both adults and babies. Different types of surgery are available to treat the obstruction and it depends on surgeon and the exact location of obstruction. So if you face this medical condition then consult a good eye specialist.
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