Tear Duct Surgery for weepy eyes
Tear drainage anatomy
Tears are produced continuously and are drawn into a small hole in the inner corner of each of the upper and lower eyelid known as a punctum. They lead into small tubes known as the canaliculi, which in turn drain into the lacrimal or tear sac. This lies between the corner of your eye and your nose and has a duct at the bottom (the nasolacrimal duct), which drains into your nose.
Why does ‘blocked tear duct’ (lacrimal obstruction) occur?
Most cases of lacrimal obstruction occur for unknown reasons. However, a few identified causes are:
Congenital malformation of the lacrimal drainage system, i.e. a small number of children are born with blocked tear ducts
Severe forms of conjunctivitis
Some chemotherapy agents and eye drops
Surgical or traumatic damage to the drainage system
What are the symptoms?
If the nasolacrimal duct is blocked the eye becomes watery, and sometimes sticky. Some people develop a painless swelling of the lacrimal sac at the inner corner of the eye and in a few people this swelling becomes infected, causing a red, tender lump or abscess.
How do I know if I have a need an operation?
In the eye clinic you will see an eye doctor who will examine you and perform some tests which might include syringing water through the tear ducts to see whether there is a blockage. Sometimes, various scans of the tear drainage pathway (eg. dacryocystogram, dacryoscintillogram, MRI) are needed to help assess your watery eye and plan your treatment.
What is the treatment for lacrimal obstruction?
Most cases of confirmed obstruction will require an operation to relieve symptoms once they occur. The primary aim of treatment is to either unblock the system, or to bypass any obstruction. Some causes of lacrimal obstruction can be treated with putting silicon tubing into your lacrimal system. Your doctor will discuss this with you.