Tears on the surface of our eyes drain from the eyelids to the nose through a small drainage system called your lacrimal system. Two openings in the upper and lower eyelids (punctum) empty tears into small canals called canaliculi. These canals move tears to a sac near the nose (lacrimal sac). The lacrimal sac narrows into a tunnel called the nasolacrimal duct that empties tears into your nasal cavity. A blockage can occur at any point in this system.

The most common signs and symptoms of blocked tear duct include:

  • Excessive tearing
  • Mucous in the corner of the eye or along eyelashes
  • Blurred vision
  • Recurrent eye infections
  • Painful swelling in the inner corner of the eye
  • Crusting of the eyelids

At the time of your evaluation, Dr. Munroe will perform a complete examination of your tear drainage system. Your lacrimal system may be flushed with saline solution to check how well the system is draining and help identify the location of the blockage.


Based on your exam findings, Dr. Munroe may recommend a combination of different treatments. Warm compresses and antibiotics may be helpful in less severe cases. If these measures are not effective or if there is complete blockage of the system, a dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) surgery can be performed to bypass the obstruction. During a DCR, a new opening is created from the lacrimal sac to your nose. A small incision is made in the area under your eye, next to your nose. Through this incision, a small opening is made in the bone beneath. This opening connects your lacrimal sac and your nasal cavity. Sometimes, a small tube is left there temporarily to keep the new tear duct open while healing occurs.

You may have a bit of nose bleeding for a couple days after the procedure. Most people recover in less than a week.

Blocked Tear Duct