Blocked Tear Ducts
If your tears do not drain properly because of a blocked tear duct, it can cause significant discomfort and irritation. If left untreated, you can develop chronic eye infections, which can threaten your sight and overall ocular health. At SightMD, we offer effective treatment. Although we will first try non-surgical options, dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) is usually the most effective and long-lasting treatment option. During this procedure, your doctor will use advanced techniques to create a new drainage channel for your tears. Thanks to this procedure, most patients enjoy lifelong relief from their symptoms.
What Causes Blocked Tear Ducts?
Tears play an essential role in your ocular health. Tears moisten and lubricate your eye, and drain into small openings near where your upper and lower eyelids come together. From there, they move to the lacrimal sac on either side of your nose. Next, they travel down the nasolacrimal duct, and they are finally reabsorbed in the nose. When your tears cannot drain properly at any point in this process, it can cause a host of problems. The symptoms of a blocked tear duct include:
- Inflammation and irritation
- Swelling at the corner of the eye
- Chronic eye infections
- Blurred vision
- Mucus and pus discharge
The condition most frequently affects women age 40 and older, and can be caused by a narrowing of the tear ducts or a thickening of the protective membrane. Blocked tear ducts can also result from a facial injury that causes broken bone or scar tissue to block the drainage passage. Tumors and lacrimal stones can also cause blockage.
In some instances, children are born with a membrane over their tear duct that has not yet opened. In most cases of congenital blocked tear ducts, the condition clears up on its own before the child’s first birthday.
The Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) Procedure
Surgery is typically the most effective treatment for adults with a blocked tear duct. During a DCR, your doctor will create a drainage channel between your nasal cavity and the lacrimal sac. Before the procedure, your doctor will thoroughly examine the structure of your nose and tear ducts to determine which of the two types of DCR is right for you:
- External DCR: During this procedure, your doctor will create a tiny incision just above your nose. He will place a stent to connect the lacrimal sac to the nasal cavity. Finally, he will close the incision with tiny sutures. Although external DCR does leave some minimal scarring, the scars typically fade to become hardly noticable. This treatment is typically recommended for senior patients.
- Internal/Endoscopic DCR: If you choose this procedure, your doctor will create a small incision on the inside of your nose. Using an endoscope (a microscopic camera attached to a flexible tube), he will place a stent connecting the lacrimal sac and nasal cavity. Internal DCR leaves no visible scarring. Although this treatment is not as common as external dacryocystorhinostomy, our specialists have the training and experience necessary to perform this advanced procedure.
Both external and internal DCR have a high success rate. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of our patients who receive this treatment enjoy lifelong relief. We can also provide revision surgery for patients who experience future blockage.