Q:

How do you treat a blocked tear duct?

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Quick Answer

Doctors treat tear duct blockages caused by infection with antibiotic eye drops, while the treatment for a tear duct blocked by a tumor may involve surgical removal of the tumor or using treatments to shrink the tumor. Doctors usually recommend conservative treatment and watchful waiting for tear duct blockage related to facial injuries. Treatment of blocked tear ducts may involve more than one procedure or treatment, depending on the cause of the blockage.

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Full Answer

Tear duct blockage at birth generally resolves on its own without any intervention. If an infant’s condition doesn’t improve, a special massage technique may open up the membrane that blocks the flow of tears. Doctors teach parents the technique, which parents use several times daily until the blockage clears. Infant tear blockage after use of the massage technique may require further treatment.

For both infants and adults with blocked tear ducts not responding to other treatments, some minimally invasive options such as dilation, probing and irrigation may help. Tear ducts blocked due to acquired conditions, inflammation or scarring may require balloon catheter dilation to open the duct fully. Another option includes intubation or stenting the tear duct to encourage the duct to stay open on its own. All minimally invasive techniques require anesthesia.

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