18 Avril 2017
The lacrimal gland or the eye’s tear duct can get infected, which is also known as dacryocystitis. It’s located in the inside corner of your lower and upper eyelids, where an opening is connected to the tear duct/small tube.
These ducts carry tears away after it’s rinsed the eye’s surface, allowing fresh tears to come in. Tears are produced by the lacrimal gland that is beneath the upper eyelid above your eye, and it’s connected to your tear duct, as well as to the noses inside.
When your tear duct or the lacrimal gland collect bacteria and gets blocked, it will cause infection. This blockage close to your nose can also cause extra tearing off your eye.
It can happen to any age group but is more common in infants that are born with a congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction. Most of the time children outgrow this condition by the age of one year.
The ducts may also block up due to the trauma of the eyes or nose, like with nasal polyps or a broken nose. At first, when this infection starts it’s known as acute dacryocystitis, but if it doesn’t get treated and gets worse over a period of time, treatment becomes difficult and that is known as chronic dacryocystitis.
Here are some of the causes for this condition:
Most of the time, infants get born with tear ducts that are blocked. This means that their drainage system wasn’t developed fully, where the thin membrane tissue still remains and covers the gap that empties into their nasolacrimal duct.
Changes that is age-related
When you get older, these small gaps which drain your tears can grow narrower, and cause some blockage.
Inflammation or infection
Chronic inflammation or infection of your nose, eyes or your tear drainage system, may also cause these ducts to block up.
Trauma or injuries
Any injuries to the face may be the cause of scarring close to the drainage system or damage to the bone, which will disrupt normal flowing of your tears through these ducts. Even loose cells of your skin or small pieces of dirt can lodge in these ducts and block it.
Tumors that form the drainage system or your nose may block the ducts.
Certain eye drops
This is not very common, but over a long period of time with using specific medications, like eye drops for treating glaucoma, it may cause the tear ducts to block up.
Treatments for cancer
Blocked ducts can be a side effect possibility due to radiation treatments and chemotherapy medications for cancer.
Some of the symptoms and signs you might experience:
Having blurred visions
Puss or mucus that discharged from your eye’s surface and eyelids
Eyelids that crust up
If you experience swelling that is painful close to the inside eye corners
Repeated inflammation or infection of your eyes/pink eyes
The eye’s white part that turns red
Treatments will depend on the cause of this blockage. There are different treatments for different conditions. With a tumor, the doctor will focus on what caused it, and then either recommend treatments which will shrink it or surgery for removing the tumor.
Medications for fighting infections
When a doctor suspect it’s an infection, they can prescribe some antibiotic pills or eye drops.
Massages or watch-and-wait
Babies that are born with this blockage, can most of the time heal without treatments. If it doesn’t improve within a few months, the doctor might teach the parent how to use a special technique of massaging to open the tear duct. If it’s caused by any injury to the face, the doctor can suggest waiting for the swelling to go down, which can improve the condition and unblock the tear duct.
Flushing dilation and probing
For babies, this procedure will be performed with general anesthesia. The punctual opening will be enlarged. Using a specific dilation instrument to insert a very thin probe into their drainage system, through the puncta.
In the case of grownups where their puncta are narrowed partially, the doctor will dilate your punctual opening by using a tiny probe to flush out the tear duct. This procedure is quite simple and it can be done in outpatients, which can provide at most a temporary relief.
Dilation with a balloon catheter
The doctor might use this procedure if any of the other treatments didn’t work or when the blockage returns. It’s very effective for babies and also toddlers, as well as sometimes for grownups that only experience a partial blockage.
It will be performed with a general anesthetic. Your doctor threads a catheter/tube into your nose with a balloon at its tip that is deflated. This balloon can be inflated and deflated just a few times and it will open your blockage.
Intubation or stenting
Normally this procedure will be performed under general anesthesia. A thin polyurethane or silicone tube will be threaded into the puncta at your eyelid corner, through your drainage system, and into the nose. A tiny loop of this tubing will be visible in your eye’s corner, which normally will stay in for close to 3 months, after which it will be removed.