Care for Blocked Tear Duct in Infant

By Sarah Lipoff

According to the Children's Hospital of Boston, a blocked tear duct is a fairly common problem for infants. It is caused when the tear duct is blocked and the drainage system for the eye isn't allowing tears to come out. Blocked tear ducts or dacryostenosis can affect one or both eyes of an infant. Many times the condition isn't recognized until a couple months after birth. When a tear duct is blocked, the eyes spill tears and discharge over onto the checks, instead of at the corner of the eye, even when an infant isn't crying.

Tear duct massage

Tear ducts are normally open and fully developed by birth. For some infants, this doesn't happen, and there is a small membrane that blocks the tear-duct opening. According to Children's Hospital of Boston, most times the membrane opens by 10 to 12 months of age naturally. If you think your child's tear ducts may be blocked, contact a physician to discuss treatment options. Dr. William Sears, MD, suggest massaging the eyes several times daily. Wash your hands, and use a clean washcloth each time you massage the child's eyes. Position your index fingers alongside the upper edges of the infant's nose near their eyebrows. Gently massage down toward the corner of the eye and down the nose. Do this several times a day to help blocked tear ducts in infants. Wipe the eyes when finished with a clean warm washcloth.

Eye Drops

If a blocked tear duct becomes infected, a doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops to clear the issue. The antibiotics will not open the tear ducts, but will clear the infection. Make sure to follow directions on the medication when applying to your child's eyes. According to Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, breast milk has antibacterial value and is effective as a home remedy for eye infections. Breast milk can be dropped into an infant's infected eyes six times each day. Breast milk contains infection-fighting white blood cells, which aid in fighting an eye infection, but will not open tear ducts. It is also easier on infant's eyes than prescribed antibiotics. Press a warm clean washcloth on infant's eyes to help keep their ducts clean and clear. According to natural-homeremedies.org, pressing a warm compress against an infant's blocked tear ducts can be done several times daily.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment is an option for infants with blocked tear ducts. When an infant has had a serious eye infection, repeated infections or excessive tearing, a doctor may suggest the tear duct be surgically probed. According to kidshealth.org, this process is extremely successful and done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. The procedure takes around 10 minutes and can be repeated if necessary. Make sure to discuss your options with your doctor when considering surgery. An ophthalmologist or a specialist should only preform a surgical probe.

About the Author

Sarah Lipoff has been writing since 2008. She has been published through BabyZone, Parents, Funderstanding and Education.com. Lipoff has worked as a K-12 art teacher, museum educator and preschool teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science in K-12 art education from St. Cloud State University.