Clogged tear duct in infants. A blocked tear duct in children in the first months of life, called dacryostenosis in the medical world, is a congenital defect. In most cases, the condition clears up within six months. A blocked tear duct can lead to inflammation of the tear sac, called dacryocystitis. The condition is common in infants.
Symptoms of a blocked tear duct in infants
You can recognize a blocked tear duct in your child by the flow of tears. The moisture from the eye cannot be dissipated and will run down your baby’s cheeks. This only becomes noticeable in the second to third week after birth. In many cases, the blockage also causes inflammation of the tear sac. A red and warm swelling then develops under the corner of the eye on the side of the nose. Your child does not feel well and develops a fever. Pus (pus) is visible in the eye. If you press on the swelling under the corner of the eye, more pus will flow through the tear tip to the eye. The tear tip is on the lower eyelid near the inner corner of the eye.
Incidentally, many children have an infected eye shortly after birth. You can recognize this by pus in and redness of the eye. If your child does not suffer from tears, there is no blockage of the tear duct. In this case, by regularly cleaning the eye (three times a day) with boiled and cooled water, you can treat the inflammation. More often is not necessary and is irritating to the eyes. Instead of boiled, cooled water, you can also use a physiological saline solution that you can buy at the pharmacy. A clean washcloth with water and a drop of baby shampoo is also a good way to clean the eye.
See also, Pterygium eye disease
How does a blocked tear duct develop?
Normally the tear fluid is transported through the tear tip through channels to the tear sac in the nose. From there it continues through another channel and ends up in the nose. In children with a blocked tear duct, the last channel (which runs from the tear sac to the nose) is closed by a membrane, the so-called Hasner’s membrane. In most infants, this membrane bursts spontaneously within four to six weeks of birth. The tear fluid, which is formed continuously and not only when the child is crying, accumulates in the tear sac. This quickly fills up, causing moisture to run out of sight. The stagnation of tear fluid in the tear sac forms a pleasant environment for bacteria. These can multiply quickly, causing inflammation.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
A blocked tear duct and inflammation of the tear sac are harmless to your child. The eye cannot be damaged by it. In the vast majority of cases, the tear duct opens on its own. If this has not happened after six months, the ophthalmologist can break the membrane with a simple procedure.
When to go to the doctor?
You do not need to see a doctor for a blocked tear duct. If inflammation develops and there is swelling and pus enters the eye, you should make an appointment. Your child may need eye drops or an antibiotic.
See also, Cataracts eye disease
What can you do about it yourself?
By massaging you can make the blockage of the tear duct disappear faster. It is very important that you massage in the right way. You place your clean finger on the skin just below the tear tip. The tear tip is the small tip in the lower eyelid. Then slowly move your finger diagonally down towards the nose. Lift your finger there and start again at the top. You do this three times a day. You can also use a slightly moistened cotton swab for this massage of the tear tip.
In the absence of pus-forming inflammation, frequent cleaning of the eye with boiled, cooled water is not necessary. This has an irritating effect.
General advice and precautions for a blocked tear duct
You cannot prevent a blocked tear duct and an inflamed tear sac.
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