blocked tear duct

Caring for a blocked tear duct in adults

Fact Checked

A blocked tear duct develops when the drainage of the eye for tears is partially or completely blocked. Generally, tears cannot drain normally which result to irritated, watery or infected eye. Tears come from the lacrimal glands found above each eye. The tears flow down to the surface of the eyes for lubrication and protection. The tears drain into the tiny holes or puncta found in the corners of the upper and lower eyelids. Furthermore, the tears travel into the small canals in the lid or canaliculi to a sac where the lids are connected on the side of nose or lacrimal sac, moves down the nasolacrimal duct before going out into the nose where they evaporate or reabsorbed.

Causes of a blocked tear duct

  • Narrowing of the tear duct due to swelling, thickening and inflammation of the lining.
  • Nasal problems such as nasal polyps or tumors, excessive growth of nasal bones and a deviated septum
  • Sinus infection and sinus surgery
    Blocked tear ducts
    Inflammation or swelling, tenderness and redness of the inside corner of the eye or around the eye and nose.
  • Formation of a lacrimal stone within the tear duct.
  • A broken cheekbone that places significant pressure on a tear duct
  • Injury to the bones that protects the eyes or orbits
  • Repair of a broken bone in the face
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Lastly, prolonged use of topical medication


  • At first, recurrent eye infections
  • Inflammation or swelling, tenderness and redness of the inside corner of the eye or around the eye and nose.
  • Blurred vision
  • Mucus discharge
  • Fever
  • Crusty eyelashes
  • Persistent diseases of the eyes
  • Excessive watering of the eyes
  • Lastly, tears with blood


  • Massage the lacrimal sac 2 times every day – morning and night. Generally, use a cotton swab and lightly rub the inferior corners of the affected eye next to the nose for a few seconds to drain the clear fluid out the corners of the eyes. The gentle rubbing of the area will open the membrane covering the tear duct.
  • If a blocked tear duct is triggered by an infection, take the prescribed over-the-counter antibiotic to lessen the pain and infection. Apply a warm compress on the affected eye to relieve pain caused by the blocked duct. Soak a wet washcloth in warm water, wring out the excess and apply on the affected eyes.
  • If there is crusting and accumulation of tears in the eyelids, clean the area using a wet and warm washcloth.
  • Use dilation, probing and irrigation if the blocked duct does not open or it becomes narrow.


  • A blocked tear duct can be prevented by treating properly conditions such as nasal infections and conjunctivitis to lessen the risk of a blocked tear duct.
  • Use protective eye wear to prevent blockage due to injuries.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • All content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional