Clogged Tear Ducts

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with a clogged tear duct, you likely have increased tearing, irritation, and eye discomfort. At the Medical Eye Center, Dr. Slentz has the expertise and experience to help treat your symptoms and help your eyes return to their normal function.

What is a Clogged Tear Duct?

When you have a clogged tear duct, your tears cannot adequately drain from the surface of your eyes. These ducts are passages that connect to the nose and are located on the inner corners of the eyes.

In some cases, clogged tear ducts may heal on their own. However, treatment or surgery may be necessary to improve symptoms in some cases. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Clogged Tear Duct?

The symptoms of clogged tear ducts can vary from person to person. Symptoms can also vary depending on age, as children can get clogged tear ducts as well.

In adults, some of the common symptoms of a blocked tear duct are:

  • Crusting around the eyelids
  • Blurred vision
  • Drainage from the eye
  • Excessive tearing
  • Painful swelling near the inner corner of the eye

What Are Some of the Causes of a Clogged Tear Duct?

There are many possible causes of clogged tear ducts. The only way to determine what the cause of your blockage is by seeing an eye doctor.

Congenital Blockage

Tear duct blockages are very common in infants. A congenital blockage can occur due to a problem during the development of the tear drainage system.

The infant’s tear duct may only develop partially, or it may develop abnormally. This condition is also called congenital lacrimal duct obstruction.


Another factor that can contribute to the development of a clogged tear duct is age. Like many other parts of the body, the structures of your eye change as you age.

As you age, your tear ducts can become smaller. If they become too small, your tears will be unable to drain from the eye effectively. 


In some cases, tumors can develop in the tear duct system or nasal passageway and cause a blockage. If a tumor develops in or around the nose, this can also cause a blockage in the drainage channel. 


Although less common, an injury to your face or eyes can cause your tear ducts to form scar tissue. If scar tissue forms in the tear drainage canal, it may prevent tear drainage. 

How Do Eye Doctors Treat Clogged Tear Ducts?

Eye doctors can use various methods to treat a clogged tear duct. Which method they use depends on the cause and severity of the blockage and the patient’s age. 

If the blockage is caused by an infection of either the nasal passage, eyes, or tear duct system, your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or medications. Antibiotics can also improve any discharge or crust around the eyes if you have an infection. 

To physically clear a blockage, your eye doctor may use a technique that dilates, probes, and irrigates your tear duct. Flushing or irrigating the drainage system will attempt to clear the blockages.

If your tear duct is clogged due to the formation of scar tissue or inflammation, then surgery may be indicated.

Do you want to learn more about how Dr. Slentz can improve your symptoms from a clogged tear duct? Schedule an appointment at the Medical Eye Center.

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