Swollen Tear Duct

Swollen tear ducts, or dacryocystitis, is an inflammation of the tear drainage system in one or both eyes that cause excessive tearing, and often inflammation and discharge in spite of there being no presence of allergies, cold, or other issues. This can happen to people at any age, however it is most generally observed in infants– with one in 3 impacted.

What Causes Swollen Tear Ducts?

In adults, infection sets in when the tear duct is obstructed, often as an outcome of the natural development pattern of surrounding bones. Their development narrows the tear ducts, causing a clog, which allows bacteria to gather and gradually grow.

Lots of babies are born with a membrane in the tear duct that does not open, or is too narrow to enable the passage of tears. This is really normal, and most of the times will be outgrown by age 1. Nevertheless, if it lasts beyond age 1, a small, normally pain-free surgery is carried out to open the duct (generally lasting 5 minutes, and performed in your doctor’s workplace).

swollen tear duct in adults

Symptoms of Swollen Tear Ducts

Aside from observing the normal inflammation, swelling, and excess tearing present with infected tear ducts, an eye care specialist can run other tests to determine the disorder. These include pressing near the sinus area for discharge through the tear ducts, in addition to dye tests, where colored fluid is run through the tear ducts to see if they are clear.

Symptoms of Swollen Tear Ducts consist of:

  • Eye and eyelid inflammation
  • Eye swelling
  • Excess tearing
  • Eye discharge
  • Fever

How Tear Ducts Get Blocked

There countless reasons for blocked tear ducts. Some babies are born with tear duct problems, most of which resolve themselves as they age.

An injury to the eye or nose can interrupt the tear ducts’ function, and even something as little as dust or dirt stuck in the tear duct can cause problems. In unusual cases, obstructed tear ducts may be brought on by a tumor. And tear duct obstruction is often a side effect of chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

Who Is at Risk for Blocked Tear Ducts

Particular factors increase your risk of establishing an obstructed tear duct. If you have chronic eye inflammation, specifically from conjunctivitis or other infections, it’s likely to impact your tear ducts.

Older women tend to be at higher risk, as are those who have had eye or sinus surgeries. Some glaucoma medications can cause obstructed tear ducts also.

Treatments for Swollen Tear Ducts

In most cases, oral antibiotics are the treatment of choice for swollen tear ducts. They are quick and effective, normally clearing the infection up in a matter of days. In some cases where infections don’t react to antibiotics, surgery may be advised to clear the tear ducts, or get rid of surrounding bones that may be triggering the tear ducts to be too narrow.

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Comments: 1
  1. Fran Williams

    I have this in one eye only and it’s intermittent. It started acting up after a really bad cold. It got infected with the cold. After 3 days, my eye was swollen shut. The next day and a half, the side of my face was swelling up. I went to urgent care, which sent me to the emergency room. I was put on aggressive antibiotic by IV, twice. By the time I was seen by a doctor in the ER, the swelling had become painful and fast increasing. They got the swelling down & discharged me. I continued on antibiotic pills at home. Now it will swell from time to time, but not like that one time. Recently, I was blowing my nose and it felt like stringy mucus was pulling out of that area. I did blow out a yellow discharge and I felt relief when it came out. I’m still getting intermittent swelling in that tear duct. I’m thinking of trying a ‘Noddy Poddy to clean out my sinuses and hope that stops the swelling for good.

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