A blocked tear duct is a fairly common and usually temporary problem that occurs in infants when the nasolacrimal duct—the passage that lets tears drain from the eye into the nasal cavity—becomes obstructed or is closed off. Having blocked tear ducts does not mean that you don’t make tears. It actually means that the drainage system is blocked, so the tears that are made can’t drain out and the eye becomes flooded – the child may appear to be crying or may have a mucus-like buildup on the edges of the eyelid. Blocked tear ducts occur in up to 20 percent of newborns.
For most children born with a blocked tear duct, there is only a small membrane blocking the opening, which opens spontaneously as the infant grows. Usually the membrane opens by 10 to 12 months of age. Since the majority of cases resolve without treatment, most doctors suggest waiting to see if the duct opens on its own – this happens about 95 percent of the time. When necessary, Dr. Elmer or Hurley can perform a simple procedure to open a child’s tear duct.
If you suspect your child may need this treatment, you can book a consult appointment at either our Amherst or Niagara Falls location – 1-800-309-2020.