Swollen Tear Duct or Nasolacrimal Symptoms and Its Treatments

Tears are naturally drained from the eyes and into a nose through a duct. This can be noticeable when a person cries and his or her nose also starts to run. This is because a duct is present connecting the two. Tears are drained to help keep the eyes clean from any harmful debris.

When the ducts are clogged, swelling and infection can occur which poses a problem in both infants and adults.

Swollen Tear Duct

  • The tear duct is also known as the nasolacrimal duct.

  • This duct is responsible for draining tears from the eyes which stretch into the nose.

  • A tear duct can become clogged due to various causes.

  • When a tear duct is clogged, the tear duct sacs in the eyes become filled and swell.

  • These swollen ducts are very prone to the development of an infection.

  • In infants and newborns, blocked tear ducts are very common but this is less common in adults.

  • The known causes of clogged tear ducts in adults include:

    • Thick tear duct lining

    • Sinus or nasal problems

    • Bone and tissue injury around the eyes

    • Infection

    • Growth of tumors

    • Stones or crystallization from topical medications

Swollen Tear Duct Symptoms

When tear ducts become swollen, the person can present the following symptoms:

  • Excessive tearing – the eyes can appear wet or the tears start running down the cheeks.

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Mucus discharge and buildup in the corner of the eye

  • Eyelids stick together

  • Infection that spreads to the eyelids and areas around the eye

  • Worsening of symptoms during an upper respiratory tract infection, exposure to wind, exposure to cold, and exposure to sunlight.

Swollen Tear Duct Treatment in Adults

Management of swollen nasolacrimal ducts in adults differs from that in children or infants.

  • The treatment of swollen nasolacrimal ducts in adults will depend on the cause.

  • If infection is present, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic treatment through eye drops, ointment, or taken orally.

  • If there is no damage to the tear duct, this can re-open with conservative treatment.

  • For tear ducts that are damaged, surgery may be needed in order to reconstruct the passageway to help restore normal drainage of tears from the eyes.

  • The prognosis of blocked tear ducts in adults varies depending on the cause.

  • Blockage may not be prevented but the risk can be decreased through prompt treatment of nasal and eye infections as well as proper eye care.

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