• Should I take my daughter to see an ophthalmologist if she has intermittently blocked tear ducts?


    My 23-month-old had blocked tear ducts when she was born, in both eyes. The right side cleared at 4 months and the left at 6 months. But every time she gets a cold (which is often, with two older school-aged sisters), the left eye, and occasionally, also the right, will clog again, and she gets watery eyes and tears streaming down her cheeks. Her eyelashes on the bottom of her left eye also seem to grow in an upward trajectory and when she has overly watery eyes, they stick to her eyeball. She also seems to have an overly runny nose, although I'm not sure that's related. Should I consult an ophthalmologist to have her ducts probed, even if they only become clogged when she’s ill?


    Tearing that is different between the two eyes is suspicious for a blockage in the nasolacrimal duct system. If the tear drain is intermittently blocked, there may be a functional obstruction. This means that while there is not a 100 percent anatomic obstruction, under the right circumstances such as clogging with mucus, debris, oil or other substances, it can become blocked.

    A pediatric ophthalmologist can probe and/or irrigate the tear drain to determine if there is an anatomic or functional obstruction. Having an obstruction can be bothersome due to tearing, but can also lead to an infection called dacryocystitis if there is accumulation of debris in the nasolacrimal sac. I would see your pediatric ophthalmologist for an evaluation to see if any intervention is necessary.

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