Blocked Tear Duct

Blocked Tear DuctA blocked tear duct may occur in adults due to an infection, injury, or tumor. The tears cannot drain normally, leading to a watery, irritated eye. Partial or full obstruction in the tear drainage system causes this condition. However, the problem is almost always treatable, and the treatment will depend on the cause of blockage and the patient’s age and health condition.

Dr. Jennifer Hui is an experienced oculoplastic surgeon providing treatments for blocked tear duct and other conditions. Patients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Coachella Valley, Riverside, Redlands, Yucaipa, Loma Linda, and surrounding communities have an opportunity to receive medical and cosmetic surgery as well as non-surgical treatments of the eye from Dr. Hui.


The symptoms of a blocked tear duct include:

  • Excessive tearing
  • Redness in the eye
  • Recurrent eye inflammation or infection
  • Swelling and pain in the corner of the eye
  • Eyelid crusting
  • Pus discharge from the eyelids
  • Blurred vision


The eye surgeon will try to determine the cause in order to offer appropriate treatment for a blocked tear duct. Some of the key causes include:

  • Blockage by birth in newborns
  • Age related occurrence
  • Inflammation or infection
  • Injury or trauma
  • Tumor
  • Long-term use of certain eye drops
  • Side effect of chemotherapy

Non-Surgical Treatments


If an infection has caused the tear duct blockage, the eye surgeon may prescribe antibiotic pills or eye drops.

Massage or Wait and Watch

In newborn babies, a blocked tear duct will usually improve without any treatment. If the baby’s condition does not get better, the surgeon may recommend a special massage technique to open the membrane for tear drainage. Similarly, in case of injury, the surgeon may wait for a few months to see if the condition improves as the injury heals.

Flushing, Probing, and Dilation

In case of adults with partially narrowed puncta, the surgeon may dilate the puncta with a tiny probe and then irrigate or flush the tear duct. This treatment can be performed on an outpatient basis.

Balloon Catheter Dilation

The treatment may be used for both infants and adults with partial blockage. Following anesthesia, the surgeon will thread through the blockage and use a catheter or tube with a deflated balloon on the tip. The balloon will be inflated and deflated a few times to open the blockage.

Stenting or Intubation

A thin tube or stent is threaded through one or both puncta in the corner of the eyelid. The tubes then pass through the tear drainage system. The tubes are usually left in for about three months before they are removed.


External or endoscopic surgery may be performed with the patient under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision on the side of the nose, close to the location of the lachrymal sac. A stent will be placed in the new passageway, and the surgeon will close the incision with sutures.

Dedicated eyelid surgery expert Dr. Hui receives patients from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Coachella Valley, Riverside, Redlands, Yucaipa, Loma Linda, and nearby areas for tear duct blockage treatment.

For more information about cosmetic surgery and nonsurgical eye treatments and procedures performed by Oculoplastic Eye Surgeon Dr. Jennifer Hui for patients in and around Palm Springs, La Quinta, Coachella Valley, Palm Desert, Riverside, Redlands, Yucaipa, Loma Linda, California and surrounding areas call 760.610.2677 or click here to contact us.

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Palm Springs Eyelid Surgery