Blocked Tear Ducts

Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction

Tears normally exit the eyelid via the nasolacrimal duct (the tear duct which connects the inner eyelids with the back of the nose or throat). A nasolacrimal duct obstruction or blocked tear duct can cause tearing as well as recurrent infections of the nasolacrimal sac. In order to diagnose a blocked nasolacrimal system, a probing and irrigation must be performed in the office. During this painless procedure, fluid is inserted into the tear duct system and injected down through the nasolacrimal system. Normally, the patient will feel the fluid in the back of their nose or throat (since this is where the normal nasolacrimal system drains the tears). However, in a blocked system, there will be no drainage and the patient will not feel any fluid in the back of the nose or throat. If a blocked nasolacrimal system has occurred, the treatment is a surgical procedure which is called a dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). During a DCR, the tear ducts are reconnected to the back of the nose with the temporary aid of a small plastic tube to help the tears drain.