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Newborn Information

Blocked Tear Duct

Tear duct obstruction (blocked tear duct) is a fairly common condition, affecting 6% of newborns. The affected eye tears frequently - tears run down the face even without crying. The eye is not red and the eyelid is not swollen (unless secondary infection is present).

It presents in the first six months of life - usually around one month of age. It may be unilateral (one eye) or bilateral (both eyes). Over 90% of blocked tear ducts open up by the time the child is 8-12 months of age. If this does not occur, an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) may need to evaluate.

Because of poor drainage, eyes with blocked tear ducts become easily infected. The infected eye products a yellow discharge. To keep the eye free of infection, massage the lacrimal sac (where tears collect) twice a day. Always wash your hands carefully before doing this. The lacrimal sac is located in the inner lower corner of the eye. This sac should be massaged to empty it of old fluids and to check for infection. Start at the inner corner of the eye and press upward. If the eye has persistent discharge or there is redness of the eyelids, call our office. Topical antibiotic drops or ointments may be used to treat the infection.

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