The lacrimal glands generate most of the tears in the eyes. These glands are situated within the upper eyelids above each eye. In a normal tear drainage system, tears flow from the lacrimal glands over the eye’s surface. These tears drain into the puncta which are situated in the inside corners of the lower and upper lids.
The lids contain tiny canals (canaliculi) that drain tears to a sac in the area where the eyelids are joined to the side of the nose (lacrimal sac). From this location, the tears go down the nasolacrimal duct and subsequently drain into the nose. The tears are reabsorbed after they reach the nose.
Obstruction can occur in any area of the tear drainage system, starting from the puncta to the nose. Tears are unable to drain effectively once this happens. This gives the patient watery eyes and increases their chances of contracting eye infections and inflammation.
Successful and devoted oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Hui provides tear duct repair to patients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Coachella Valley, Riverside, Redlands, Yucaipa, Loma Linda, and surrounding locations across the landscape.
Some factors can heighten a person’s risk for developing tear duct blockage:
- Age and sex: Older women are at the most significant risk for tear duct blockage development due to changes related to aging.
- Chronic eye inflammation: If the eyes are persistently irritated, swollen, and red (conjunctivitis), it could put the individual at a higher risk for obstructions in the tear duct.
- Previous surgery: Past surgeries of the eyelid, eye, nose, or sinuses could have led to some scarring which could potentially cause tear duct blockage.
- Glaucoma: Medications to control glaucoma are typically used topically on the eye. People who have used these or other eye medications topically are at a higher risk for the blockage of tear ducts.
- Previous cancer treatment: If a patient receives chemotherapy or radiation for the treatment of cancer, especially if the radiation was directed to their head or face, they are at a higher risk of suffering from obstruction in a tear duct.
The following suggestion may help avoid eye infections:
- Wash the hands frequently and adequately.
- Avoid rubbing the eyes.
- Replace eye cosmetics such as eyeliner and mascara routinely. Do not share eye makeup with other people.
- If a person wears contact lenses, they should clean them properly following the manufacturer’s and eye care specialist’s instructions.
The below-mentioned tests are used to detect tear duct blockage:
- Tear drainage test: This test assesses how rapidly the patient’s tears are draining. The medical professional will place a drop of special dye on the surface of each eye. The patient’s tear duct is blocked if most of the dye remains on the surface after five minutes.
- Irrigation and probing: The doctor may flush a saline solution through the tear drainage system to evaluate the level of drainage. Instead, they could insert a narrow instrument, known as a probe, through the small drainage holes at the lid’s corner (puncta) to identify any obstructions. Probing may even fix the condition in certain patients.