Blocked Tear Duct – Symptoms and Treatment

Blocked Tear Duct  is a condition when your little one’s one or both eyes have been watering suddenly. When the baby wakes up after a nap, the eye is crusted and baby has difficulty in opening her eye. You are worried if baby has a cold or her eye is infected. Do not fret. She probably suffers from a common condition in newborn babies known as clogged tear duct.


What is a clogged tear duct ?

A tear duct is a small tube between eye and nose, which allows tears to drain from eye into nasal cavity. Sometimes, this duct is not completely open in a newborn and that obstructs the flow of tears into nasal cavity. This condition is known as blocked or clogged tear duct. If a clogged tear duct is present at birth, it is known as congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction.


a. tear gland / lacrimal gland,
b. superior lacrimal punctum,
c. superior lacrimal canal,
d. tear sac / lacrimal sac,
e. inferior lacrimal punctum,
f. inferior lacrimal canal,
g. nasolacrimal canal

Image sourced from the

Wikimedia Commons

How common is blocked tear duct in infants ?

Clogged or blocked tear duct is a fairly common condition in babies and is known to occur in 5-10 percent of the newborn babies before the age of one. This condition is not painful to babies unless there is an infection.


Symptoms of blocked tear duct in infants

Common symptoms of blocked tear duct include :

  • Excessive tearing of one or both eyes
  • Tears flow out of eye onto the cheeks
  • Sometimes yellow mucus may form on eyes and eyes may even get encrusted or stuck after sleep.
  • Redness of eye may also be there if there is infection.

When do the symptoms start showing ?

Symptoms usually start showing at few days to few weeks after birth.

Treatment for blocked tear duct in a newborn ?

Blocked tear duct usually does not need any treatment and the condition corrects itself usually by the time baby is six months to one year old. In the meantime, you can simply keep the eye clean by wiping with a soft wet cloth. Do not rub or try to open eye forcefully if the eyelids are stuck. Gently loosen the mucus using soft cloth dipped in warm water and clean the eye.

You can also massage baby’s tear duct using your index finger to help open it up. These are located near the corner of the eye down the nose. Start from the corner of the eye with a clean finger and go downwards towards the side of the nose applying pressure gently. Repeat this 8-10 times. You can do this 5-6 time a day.

Some mothers also apply breast milk to baby’s eye. This is a known effective home remedy. Breast milk has lots of antibacterial properties. If your breastfeeding, you can express a little milk and apply a couple of drops using a clean finger 5-6 times a day.

When to consult a doctor ?

You should mention it your doctor in your regular visit and doctor may advise you on how to take care of baby’s eye. If an infection develops and you that baby’s eye is very red or bloodshot or baby seems to be in discomfort, you should consult a doctor.

This condition usually clears on its own. If tear duct does not open up to one year, your doctor may perform a simple procedure for opening the duct using a tiny  wire.


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