Blocked Tear Duct (Tearing) Blocked Tear Duct (Tearing) |
For appointment
(65) 6887 3797 |


Eye Clinic & Optometry Centre for Children and Adults

Blocked Tear Duct (Tearing)

Blocked Tear Duct (Tearing) in Adults

Eye Drainage System

Constant production of tears keeps our eyes moist, lubricated and healthy.

Our tears are produced by glands around the eye and are washed across the eye towards the nose through puncta, which are the 2 small openings located at the inside corner of the upper and lower eyelids near the nose. The tears then move through a passage called the canaliculus and into the lacrimal sac. From the sac, the tears then drop down the tear duct, called the nasolacrimal duct and drain into the back of the nose and throat.

Blocked Tear Duct in Adults


The most common and usual symptom of a blocked tear duct is increased tearing. Tears will drain and flow onto the face and down the cheeks.


Causes of Excessive Tearing

There are many reasons for excessive tearing including dry eyes, allergy, eye infection, eyestrain, foreign body, blocked tear duct, glaucoma etc.

In adults, a blocked tear duct can be caused by an infection, ageing, an injury to or around the eye, abnormal tissue or structure in nose, complications of surgery on or around nose, or a tumour.

A thorough eye examination by an ophthalmologist is necessary to determine the cause.



Treatment of the excessive tearing depends on its cause. Once the cause is determined, treatment may include one or more of the following:

  • Surgical opening of the blocked drainage system or surgery to repair an injured drainage system
  • Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR): surgery to add a new opening from the lacrimal sac into the nose
  • Medications to treat eye infection or allergy
  • Lubricating eyedrops or ointment to treat dry eyes
  • Removal of foreign body


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.

Blocked Tear Duct in Children


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.