Your tear ducts are the tubes that allow tears to drain out of your eyes. Sometimes, these tubes can become clogged or blocked, and this can lead to vision problems. Here are four things you need to know about blocked tear ducts.
What are the signs of blocked tear ducts?
When your tear ducts are blocked, tears can't drain out of your eyes properly. Since your tears can't drain through the ducts, they'll accumulate in your eyes, leading to watery eyes. You may also have swelling near the corner of your eye beside your nose; this can happen when the tear ducts are inflamed or infected. You may also notice either mucus or pus in the corner of your eye. Blurred vision can also be a sign of blocked tear ducts.
What causes this problem?
There are many things that can cause blocked tear ducts. The lining of your tear ducts can become thickened due to swelling or infection, and if this happens, tears won't be able to pass through. Nasal problems like polyps or a deviated septum can also block your tear ducts. Blocked tear ducts can also be a complication of sinus infections.
Injuries can also lead to blocked tear ducts. If you break your nose, your cheekbone, or the bones around your eyes, the swelling can put pressure on your tear ducts and keep tears from passing through.
Can blocked tear ducts damage your vision?
Blocked tear ducts can lead to eye infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye), and infections can sometimes damage your vision. This happens when the infection leads to scarring of the cornea, the lens that covers your pupil and iris. Light needs to pass through your cornea for you to see, and if there is a lot of scar tissue on the cornea, light can't pass through. You can avoid this complication by seeing your optometrist right away if you think you have an eye infection.
How do optometrists treat this problem?
The treatment for blocked tear ducts depends on the cause. If an infection is causing the blockage, you'll be given antibiotics to kill the bacteria responsible for the infection. If your tear ducts are clogged, your optometrist can perform a minor surgical procedure to open them. During this procedure, a probe will be guided through your tear duct to clear out any blockages.
Blocked tear ducts can lead to vision problems, so if you think you're suffering from this problem, see your optometrist right away.