Blocked tear ducts are typically caused by injury, allergies, sinus problems, infection and possibly a tumor. Watery eyes are a sign that your tear ducts may be clogged, which can cause blurred vision and irritation especially if it remains uncorrected. Tears protect the eyes by washing away debris and aid vision by refracting light. The system that produces tears is made up of the eyelids along with various glands and ducts. When any of these components do not function properly, a patient may experience excessive tearing, eye irritation, and blurry vision.
Surgery on the tear duct is generally performed to allow for proper drainage of the duct directly to the nose. During surgery, the duct is either opened or bypassed to allow this to occur. For example, once this procedure is performed, a patient can expect to notice his or her tears draining properly.
If the blockage is near the the opening of the eyelid, the procedure may be relatively simple and can be performed under local anesthesia. However, if the blockage is far away from the eyelid and deeper within the tear duct, general anesthesia may be necessary. Initially, to repair the tear duct, Dr. Schwarcz creates a small incision in the corner of the eye.
Common Causes of Excessive Tearing:
Various inflammatory conditions and even age can cause the eyes to produce less natural tears. Without sufficient tears, the eyes become dry, red, and irritated. To compensate, the lacrimal tear duct gland starts to secrete tears. Unfortunately, these tears are thin and watery, which means that they do not coat the eye and the cycle continues. Certain tasks, such as reading or focusing on a computer screen, and windy weather can exacerbate dry eye symptoms.
Excessive tearing can also be the result of a blockage in the nasolacrimal duct. There are small holes in the eyelids that allow tears to drain into the nose. A blockage anywhere along the nasolacrimal duct can cause tears to back-up into the eyes and ultimately run down the cheeks.
Tear Duct Tearing Surgery:
If the excessive tearing is due to a blockage within the duct, surgery is typically required to reopen the drainage system. A dacryocystorhinostomy, also known as DCR, bypasses the obstruction by creating a new drainage pathway. This procedure can be performed externally by making an incision between the nose and the eye or endoscopically in which the incision is made inside the nose.
A less common procedure involves implanting a small glass tube to allow tears to drain directly from the eye to the nose. New York residents experiencing excessive tearing should consult oculoplastic facial surgeon Dr. Robert Schwarcz for a thorough examination in order to determine the cause and the most appropriate course of treatment.
What to Expect After Surgery:
Generally, a silicone tube may be used to keep the passage from the tear duct to the nose open for proper healing to occur, which may last for two months. The silicone tube may be slightly visible to the public. After surgery, there may be slight bleeding from the nose for several hours. The area around the eye will likely be black and blue and swollen for about a week. Once the silicone tube is removed, the eye should stop watering. The eye may appear or feel dry temporarily until it adjusts to the weather and your surroundings.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options:
If the eyes are dry due to a decrease in tear production, the treatment typically involves using over-the-counter artificial lubricants to replace the missing tears. If the eyes are dry due to an inflammatory condition, a prescription medication, such as Restasis, may be used to reduce the inflammation. Some patients benefit from tear duct plugs that prevent tears from draining from the eyes.
Trust an Oculoplastic Surgeon with Corrective Surgeries of Your Eyes
As a facial oculoplastic surgeon, Dr. Schwarcz has extensive experience with surgeries involving the eyes, particularly reconstructive surgeries such as tear duct repair surgery and cosmetic surgeries like eyelid blepharoplasty. He offers two convenient locations for our New York patients, Scarsdale and Manhattan.