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Blocked Tear Ducts - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

Most babies who have blocked tear ducts don't need treatment. To help prevent infection and other problems until the blockage goes away:

  • Keep the eye clean. To wipe away drainage camera.gif, moisten a clean cotton ball or washcloth with warm water, and gently wipe from the inner (near the nose) to the outer part of the eye.
  • If your child's doctor suggests it, gently massage the area of the blockage. This can prevent fluid buildup in the duct.
  • Limit your child's time in the wind, cold, and sunlight.
  • Always wash your hands before and after you touch the eye area.

If signs of infection develop, your baby may need antibiotics.

Sometimes a probing procedure may be done to open the duct if the duct doesn't clear on its own. Probing successfully opens the duct for about 80 out of 100 babies who have blocked ducts.1 In rare cases, babies with blocked tear ducts have a more severe problem that requires more complex surgery.

In adults who have blocked tear ducts, treatment depends on the cause of the blockage. If the duct is blocked because of a long-term infection, antibiotics may be used. Surgery may be needed for structural problems or abnormal growths. Probing usually isn't done for adults.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 13, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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