Blocked Tear Duct (Tearing) in Children or Infants
Overflow eye tearing is a common condition in infants. Approximately one-third of all newborns have excessive tears and mucus. Fortunately, more than 90% of cases resolve by age of 1 year with little or no treatment.
Causes of Tearing
Overflow tearing in newborns occurs when a membrane in the nose fails to open before birth, blocking part of the drainage system. As a result, the tears do not drain properly and they can collect inside the tear drainage system and spill over the eyelid onto the cheek. They can lead to an eye infection.
They are also other causes of tearing such as allergies, environmental irritants, wind, smoke, incomplete development of tear drainage system or congenital glaucoma.
A thorough eye examination by an ophthalmologist is necessary to determine the cause.
Fortunately, most cases of blocked tear ducts go away on their own by age of 1.
An ophthalmologist may recommend digital massage by applying pressure over the lacrimal sac, cleaning the eyelids with warm water or antibiotics to treat any infection if necessary.
The aim of digital massage is to apply pressure on the lacrimal sac to pop open the membrane at the bottom of the tear duct in order to improve the drainage.
If tearing persists after 1 year old, it may be necessary to open the obstruction surgically by a probe through the tear duct, a procedure known as syringing & probing.