One of the most common issues that majority of babies experience after birth is blocked tear duct. This is a very common condition among infants and newborns and can occur due to a variety of factors. This problem can trigger a condition similar to conjunctivitis or even actual conjunctivitis itself. It thus becomes imperative that you take care of this issue immediately in order to avert unwanted eye complications in your little darling. Read ahead to find out all you wanted to know about blocked tear ducts in newborn babies.
blocked tear ducts in babie

What Is A Blocked Tear Duct?

Tear ducts are small tubes through which the tears drain from the eye. It stretches from the eye into the nose. Tear ducts are not completely developed in a lot of new born babies or may be blocked partially because it is covered by a very thin film. If a tear duct is blocked or does not open, then the tears have problem draining from the eye. As a result the duct may be filled with fluid and can become swollen, inflamed or even get infected. This is common in around 20% of new born babies and usually clears up within a year after birth.

Causes Of Blocked Tear Ducts In Newborns
  • Malformations of the face and skull: If the nasal bone of your baby is not developed normally, it can put pressure on the tear duct causing an obstruction and blockage. Even situations in which the nasal cavity or other parts of the face have some kind of abnormality, it can cause blockage of the tear duct
  • Injuries that happen on the face: If some kind of injury happens on the face of your baby, it can cause a blocked tear duct
  • Inflammation or infections: Bacterial infections like cellular debris and white blood cells can bring about swelling due to inflammation and can cause blockage of the baby’s tear duct
  • Congenital malformations: A blocked tear duct is a very common occurrence in around six out of hundred babies and one of the most common culprits behind this is an underdeveloped tear duct. In majority of the cases, a thin film of tissue obstructs the tear duct opening and as the little one grows, this flap of this tissue just disappears and clears the opening of the tear duct
  • Hereditary : Blocked tear ducts may run in the families too
Symptoms Of Blocked Tear Ducts In Babies
  • One of the most noticeable symptom is “increased tearing” that triggers the tears to flow onto the face and cheek. Normally this becomes quite noticeable in a couple of weeks after the baby is born. Often tears dry up and turn crusty
  • The presence of pus in the little one’s eyes making them stick together in such a way the baby finds it difficult to open his eyes.
  • Tears turn to be extremely thick and even crusty
  • Green or yellow discharge that is constant right through the day
  • Eyes or area near the nose appears to be red or swollen because the tears do not get drained properly due to an infection
  • The symptoms of a blocked tear duct may worsen if the baby is recovering from an upper respiratory infection. Other factors that make the symptoms worse include wind, cold weather, and sunlight

Diagnosing Blocked Tear Ducts In Babies

If your baby has symptoms of blocked tear ducts, then the doctor may recommend the following tests.

  • A specific eye stain to examine how the tears get drained
  • Eye examination
  • In a rare condition, an X –ray may be recommended in order to clearly examine the condition of the tear duct

cleaning newborn eyes

Treating Blocked Tear Ducts In Babies

The treatment for a blocked tear duct depends on what triggers the blockage of the tear duct. Majority of the cases blocked tear ducts resolves on their own without the need of medical intervention. Simple remedies include

  • Always keep your baby’s eyes cleaned and wipe away any drainage with a clean cotton or cloth
  • Keeping a moist and warm piece of cloth on baby’s eyes and massaging the eyes very gently especially towards the inner corner towards the nose where the tear ducts are present often help clearing the blockage
  • Massage along with warm compress helps to prevent the fluid buildup in the duct
  • If the eyes seem infected, the doctor may prescibe an antibiotic eye ointment or eye drops to take care of the infection
  • Dipping a ball of cotton in a solution of saline or even plain water and wiping the little one’s eyes from inside towards the outer part of the eyes is also recommended. Ensure that you use a fresh piece of cotton for each eye
  • In case, this issue does not get resolved by itself even after six months, the best thing is to consult an ophthalmologist. He may either advice a simple surgical procedure or may recommend waiting for another six months
  • Probing and even flushing after dilating the eyes is another technique used to help clear the blocked tear duct. This procedure is generally done after giving a general anesthesia in order to clear the tear duct in case the duct does not open even after a year
  • One of the popular home remedy for blocked tear ducts is use of breast milk. Putting couple of drops of breast milk in your baby’s eyes couple of times in a day is found to be quite effective in reducing the discharge and also averting any kind of eye infections that normally crops up due to blocked tear ducts
  • Make sure you do not expose your baby to conditions like wind, cold, and sunlight for a long time
  • Ensure that you wash your hands before and after touching you baby’s eye area

All the above mentioned points will help you to better understand blocked tear ducts in newborn babies so that you are well equipped to deal with this situation without getting anxious and provide the required treatment as soon as possible.
Did your baby have issues related to blocked tear ducts? How did you treat it? Please do share your experience in the comments section below.