Medical & Surgical Ophthalmology


Tear duct obstruction

What is the tear duct obstruction?

Tear duct obstruction is the blockage of the duct through which, the tear produced to lubricate the eye, is drained.

This little tube goes from the surface of the eye to the nose and its blockage will cause discomfort in the patient and symptoms that will be explained below.

Why does lacrimal obstruction occur?

There are two types of tear duct obstruction:

Risk factors for tear duct obstruction (acquired) are aging, the chronic use of drugs such as eye drops, chemotherapy or radiotherapy in the eyelid area.

How does lacrimal obstruction manifest?

The symptoms will be related to the degree of obstruction and, therefore, the amount of accumulated tears:

The main symptom that affects patients with this pathology is the sensation of a wet eye and tears falling down the cheek, which is enhanced in adverse weather conditions, such as cold and wind. Due to this constant tearing, patients can develop an inflammatory reaction on the skin of the eyelid called eczema.

On the other hand, the presence of abundant tears can lead to blurred vision, especially when looking closely or reading.

When the duct becomes completely plugged, tears accumulate in the tear duct sac and become infected. For this reason, the patient presents secretions in the morning and is more likely to suffer from recurrent conjunctivitis. Also, if infected tears accumulate in the sac tear duct, an infection of the latter (acute dacryocystitis) can occur, which generates fever, inflammation and intense pain. It must be treated with oral antibiotics.

Tear duct obstruction treatments

Tear duct obstruction is treated surgically, using tear duct probing, dacryocystorhinostomy and Jones tubes.

Lacrimal obstruction prevention

It cannot be prevented, but it is important to diagnose it early.



It does not have a specific age of presentation, it can occur in childhood or in adulthood.


Constant tearing, wet eyes, difficulty reading, recurring conjunctivitis, recurring dacryocystitis…


It cannot be prevented, but it is important to diagnose it early.

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