INFANT TEARING Infants who have significant tearing of the eyes that flows onto their cheeks usually have a blockage of their tear drainage ducts. Normally the tears flows into the nose through a small duct which begins on the eyelid by the nose. When the same duct becomes blocked, there is usually crusting and mucus on the eyelashes. Tears may appear in the eyes; spill over the eyelid; and the eye becomes red and irritated.
Blockage of the tear ducts often spontaneously opens as the natural via the membrane blocking the tear-drainage opens spontaneously. In some infants the blockage may need to be opened. Firm massage of the area over the tear ducts, between the eye and the nose, can be performed with a finger. Massaging should be done twice or three times a day. Where there is an associated discharge, an antibiotic will be prescribed.
Gentle probing may be necessary to open tear ducts in some infants. This is performed in the office or in the hospital with anesthesia.
TEARING DUE TO BLOCKED TEAR DUCTSWhen tears are formed more rapidly than they are drained from the eye, they may overflow and run down the cheek. This condition is called epiphora. This may be due to a blockage or an obstruction of the tear drainage duct. Like a sink, when these ducts are blocked, the tears have nowhere to go except over the eyelid.
Tests are performed to determine the degree of blockage. When there is an infection causing the blockage; antibiotics, massage and warm compresses are prescribed. Some forms of temporary blockage respond to simple flushing or probing, like Roto Router.
Infrequently, probing or flushing of the duct will not open the duct due to permanent blockage. Surgery may be necessary to repair the blocked duct.