Blocked Tear Ducts

Effects of Blocked Tear Ducts

When you have blocked tear ducts, your tears are not able to drain normally, leaving your eyes watery and irritated. This condition is caused by an obstruction within the tear drainage system, and is almost always correctable.

What Causes Watery Eyes?

Tears are naturally created by the lacrimal gland to lubricate the eyeball. When you blink, these tears are spread over the surface to keep it moist and healthy while excess lubrication is emptied into the tear duct and drained into your nose. With blocked tear ducts, your tears back up and spill over your eyelids as if you are crying. Over time, the constant overflow can cause a mucous discharge, eye irritation and painful swelling in the corners of the eye. Blockage can also cause an infection within the duct itself.

Blocked Tear Ducts Treatment

There are several treatment options available, and the right one will depend on an analysis of your symptoms. By irrigating the affected duct, your surgeon will determine the degree of blockage. In some cases, applying warm compresses and antibiotics will relieve the blockage; however, surgical intervention is the most effective treatment.


A common surgical solution is a dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) in which small incision is made on the side of the nose and some bone is removed to make a new connection to the nose. Drains may left behind to prevent the gap from closing and are removed after a few months. A Jones or Crawford Tube is placed to facilitate the flow of tears from the eye to the nose.

Things to Consider

Preparing for Blocked Tear Duct Treatment

Rest assured that the surgeon will do everything possible to make sure that your surgery is as comfortable and as easy for you as possible.


If you are having anesthesia, do not have anything to eat or drink starting at midnight the night before your surgery unless you are instructed otherwise by either your surgeon or your primary care physician. The exception to this role is that you can take her morning medicines with a sip of water. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, your surgeon or treating physician will tell you if any modification to your usual morning dose as is necessary.

Recovery From Blocked Tear Ducts

A DCR is normally performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia with sedation. Recovery time is about one week for all bruising and swelling to subside. There is minimal discomfort.

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