Blocked Tear Ducts - Surgery
Most babies born with a
blocked tear duct will not need surgery. But when
surgery is needed, probing is usually done. During probing, the doctor passes a probe through the blocked tear duct to open it.
Probing may be
local anesthesia (numbing eyedrops) in the doctor's office. Or in an
outpatient setting, general anesthesia may be used. The type of anesthesia depends on your child's age and the eye doctor's preference.
For adults, treatment for a blocked tear duct depends on
its cause. Probing is typically not effective with adults, and other surgical
procedures are usually used.
Other types of surgery for a blocked
tear duct in babies or adults may include breaking a nasal bone, placing a tube
in the tear duct, or surgically creating a new tear duct.
Surgical options for a blocked tear duct include:
- Probing, which involves passing a probe through the blocked tear duct to open it. Probing successfully opens the
duct in about 80 out of 100 babies who have blocked ducts.1
- Blocked Tear Ducts: Should My Baby Have a Probing Procedure?
- Intubation, which involves placing a
silicone tube into the tear duct. This may be done if the duct has excessive scarring or if it
is hard to pass the probe through the duct. Intubation may also be needed
if probing is being repeated because a previous probing failed to open the tear
- Infracturing, in which the doctor breaks a nasal bone deep within the
nose to help open the duct and improve the passageway into the
nostril. Infracturing will not permanently affect the size or shape of a baby's
- Balloon dacryocystoplasty, in which a tiny balloon at
the end of a probe is used to open the tear duct.
Surgical options that are rarely used for children-and
only after the above procedures have failed-include:
- Dacryocystorhinostomy (say
"DAK-ree-oh-SIS-toh-ry-NAW-stuh-mee"), which creates a new tear duct canal.
- Endoscopic and laser dacryocystorhinostomy. This
procedure creates a new tear duct by using a lighted instrument and passing a
flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end (endoscope) into the
When you talk about surgery options with your child's
doctor, use this
surgery information form(What is a PDF document?).
In adults, treatment for a blocked
tear duct depends on the cause of the blockage and can include any of the above
What to think about
About 6 weeks after a surgical
treatment, you or your child will most likely visit the doctor for an eye exam
and may be tested again with the
fluorescein dye disappearance test.