There are many reasons why someone might have chronic tearing. One possible cause is a blockage in the tear duct systems. Normally tears drain through tiny openings in the eyelids called “puncta” and proceed to drain into the nose through the nasolacrimal duct. Sometimes the puncta are blocked which results in tears flowing down one’s cheek. Chronic or overflow tearing in children may be due to a common obstruction of the normal outflow system (nasolacrimal duct obstruction). In such cases, children often have chronic tearing from birth which may be associated with crusting of the lashes, particularly in the morning, as well as discharge.
Why does this need to be assessed?
Other conditions such as infection, glaucoma, and intraocular inflammation could occur with similar presenting signs and symptoms. Only your pediatric eye doctor can determine if other conditions are present.
In some cases medication coupled with daily massage is enough to reopen the blocked drainage pathways. In cases of chronic tearing for months or significant infection, the obstruction can be resolved with a surgical procedure. The procedure can be performed in either the office setting or in an operating room. The procedure is not painful and often the symptoms improve within a few days.
Currently, based on a recent study of nasolacrimal duct obstruction, our practice’s success rate is approximately 86-90% with one procedure.