Blocked Tear Duct Home Remedies

Learn about blocked tear duct home remedies

A blocked tear duct occurs when the tear drainage system becomes partially or completely obstructed, resulting in the improper and incomplete drainage of the tears from the tear ducts. Blocked tear ducts can occur at any age, but are often seen in newborn babies where the blockage will mend by itself after a few hours or days. Understand why blocked tear duct home remedies are important.

In adults, blocked tear ducts can usually be treated effectively.

How does the drainage system work?

Not all tears are drained from the face, there is a whole drainage system designed to carry tears through to the nose, hence why you get a runny nose when you cry or your eyes water.

Here's how it works. The lacrimal glands are found inside of the upper eyelids and produce the majority of our tears. Under normal circumstances, tears will flow down from the lacrimal glands, over your eye and then drain off into the puncta (tiny holes on the corners of your eyelids).

The canaliculi canals on your eyelids will move the tears down to a sac located where the side of the nose joins the eyelid (also called the lacrimal sac). From the lacrimal sac, the tears travel down the nasolacrimal duct and drain into the nose where the tears are reabsorbed into the body.

Blockages to the tear duct drainage system can occur at any point, causing your tears to drain improperly and increasing the risk of infection.

Symptoms of a blocked tear duct

There are several symptoms of a blocked tear duct that go beyond simply excessive tearing, you may notice that the whites of the eye become red, the corners of the eye become painfully swollen, repeated bouts of pink eye are suffered, there is crusting on the eyelids or pus/mucus discharging from the eyelids onto the eye's surface.

Causes of a blocked tear duct.

There can be many different reasons as to why a tear duct has become blocked.

  • Congenital blockages occur from birth and are usually seen when the tear drainage system hasn't fully developed, or there is an abnormality in the tear duct or tear glands.
  • Age can also be a factor; increased age can cause the tiny holes (puncta) that drain the tears from your eyes, to become narrower, causing a blockage.
  • A common cause of blocked tear ducts is infection or inflammation of the area. Nose, eye and tear duct infections can cause the drainage system to become inflamed and blocked.
  • Injury to the eye area can cause a disruptive force on the flow of tears through the drainage system. Damage to the optical bones can cause blockages within the draining system and even tiny particles of dust or grit that has gotten into the puncta can cause a blockage to form.
  • Medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer patients can include side effects that cause the tear ducts to become blocked.
  • Tumors formed along the drainage system, including the nose, can cause a blockage to the tear ducts.
  • Frequent use of eyedrops can rarely cause blockages to the tear duct system.

Blocked tear duct home remedies

Blocked tear duct home remedies are a great way to treat a baby's problem until the problem resolves itself.

With a clean finger, massage the corner (crook) of the eye gently and clean the area after sleep with a sterile, moist cotton bud - or use baby eye wipes when away from home. In around 90% of cases the issue will resolve itself with time, so using these simple home remedies can give your baby some comfort until then.

Blocked tear duct home remedies in adults can also be used to alleviate symptoms.You can use the massage method at the corner of your eyes to try to stimulate and unblock the puncta. Lay a warm, moist, cotton washcloth over your eyelids for a few minutes as a warm compress and massage your eyelids clockwise and counterclockwise to try to soothe and open up the canaliculi and lacrimal sac and pinch the bridge of your nose to help blockages in the lacrimal sac area.

Choose one, two or all of these methods, depending on where you believe your blockage to be, which methods are more effective for you should help determine this, and repeat at least twice a day.

Last Reviewed:
July 11, 2017
Last Updated:
October 18, 2017
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