Blocked Tear Duct


  • Continuously watery eye
  • Tears running down the face even without crying
  • During crying, nostril on blocked side remains dry
  • Eye not red and eyelid not swollen
  • This diagnosis must be confirmed by a physician


A blocked tear duct is an obstruction of the channel that carries the tears from the eye to the nose.  It is present at birth, but an onset of the symptoms is often delayed in babies until 3 or 4 weeks of age.  This is a common condition, and often both sides are blocked.  Over 90% of blocked tear ducts open spontaneously by the time the child is 12 months of age.  If the obstruction persists beyond 12 months of age, an ophthalmologist can open it with a special probe.

Home Care for preventing eye infection 

Because of poor drainage, eyes with blocked tear ducts become easily infected.  The infected eye produces a yellow discharge.  To keep the eye free of infection, gently massage the lacrimal sac twice a day to empty it of old fluids.  The lacrimal sac is located in the inner lower corner of the eye.  Start at the inner corner of the eye and press upward using a cotton swab.  A small amount of clear fluid should come out.  Always wash your hands carefully first.  If the eye becomes infected, it may be necessary to begin a topical antibiotic.

Call our office IMMEDIATELY if . . . 

  • The eyelids are red or swollen.
  • A red lump appears at the inner lower corner of the eyelid.
  • Your child develops a fever in association with worsening symptoms.

Call our office during regular hours if . . . 

  • Lots of yellow discharge is present.
  • Your child reaches 12 months of age and the eye is still watering.
  • You have other concerns or questions.