In medical language, obstruction of the tear duct is called nasolacrimal duct obstruction. This condition is indeed often experienced by newborn babies, whether in one or both eyes. So, what causes blocked tear ducts in infants and how to care?
Why can tear ducts in babies get blocked?
Normally, tears play an important role in supporting a person’s vision. This clear liquid will keep the eye moist, supply oxygen to the eye, remove substances that are at risk of irritating the eye, to coat the surface of the eye.
Tears produced by the tear glands, will be flowed into the tear ducts. Unfortunately, sometimes the tissue layer (membrane) in the tear duct actually closes so that it prevents the flow of tears about to enter.
As a result, the tear ducts are blocked in the baby, which then makes the tears remain welled on the surface of the eye. The most common reason why the tear ducts in the baby can get blocked, namely because the hole in the eyelid (punta) in the baby has not fully developed.
That is why, some tear ducts actually close so as to create a barrier for the entry of tears.
On the other hand, blocked tear ducts in infants can also be caused by:
- The upper or lower eyelid ducts are closed
- Eye infection
- The nose bone is bent , blocking the tear ducts into the nasal cavity
- The tear duct is too narrow
- Nasal polyps
- The presence of cysts or tumors
- Injury to the tear ducts
What are the symptoms when a blocked tear duct in a baby?
If your child has a blocked tear duct , the following signs will usually appear:
- Tears come out continuously from one or both eyes
- The eyelids are swollen and reddish, but the eyes are not red
- The eyelids look sticky and stick together
- Sometimes greenish-colored dirt or pus appears
- Actually, the dirt that comes out is a combination of tears and bacteria. At first glance it does look like an infected eye, but this is not necessarily a sign of infection. Because everyone, including babies, has bacteria that live in the eyelids.
Therefore, when the tear duct is blocked the bacteria cannot flow anywhere, and will remain in the eyelid. This is what sometimes triggers an infection when the baby’s tear ducts are blocked, especially if the bacteria that has accumulated in the eyelid is too much.
Even so, you do not need to worry because the blockage of tear ducts in babies is actually not dangerous. But if there is an infection, see your ophthalmologist immediately.
How to treat a blocked tear duct baby?
There are 2 choices of ways to recover blocked tear ducts in infants, namely:
Most cases of tear duct obstruction in infants will usually heal on their own without special treatment. This depends on the severity of the tear block experienced by your child.
Your doctor may advise you to regularly massage your baby’s tear bags slowly, to help smooth the blockage. If the baby is less than 1 year old and has an infection in the tear ducts, antibiotic eye drops and ointments may be an option.
Treatment that does not work with conservative methods, can be continued with invasive methods. In this case, the doctor will perform surgery by inserting a medical instrument ( probe ) into the tear duct.
The goal is of course to launch a blockage that blocks the flow of tears. Not only that, doctors can recommend stenting to keep the channel open. Or by using a balloon catheter to widen the baby’s tear ducts.