Tear Duct Obstruction Eye Surgery

What is a tear duct obstruction?

There is a drainage system to clear moisture from the eye. The final drain pathway is a tube, called the tear duct, that drains into the nose where the tears flow down onto the back part of the tongue and are eventually swallowed. The most common reason for overflow of tears and discharged in infants is a tear duct obstruction.

What are the symptoms of a tear duct obstruction?

The presenting signs of a tear duct obstruction are tearing and mattering without conjunctivitis or red eye. The over abundance and spontaneous overflow of tears is a common problem in infant's occurring in up to 25%. The signs of excessive tearing and discharge may be present within the first few weeks of life. In other cases, overflow tearing may not be obvious for 3-4 months.

What happens to tear duct obstructions in infant?

The most common cause of excessive tearing in an infant is a tear duct obstruction. A great many infants, more than 90%, will show spontaneous resolution of the tear duct obstruction by 6-9 months of age. Thereafter, the likelihood of clearing without surgical intervention is very low. Therefore, there is very little benefit in delaying the surgical treatment past 9 months of age.

How is a tear duct obstruction surgically treated?

A probing and irrigation procedure is recommended as the initial surgery to treat chronic tear duct obstruction that persists after 9 months of age. To be performed accurately and safely, this brief, outpatient procedure requires the use of general anesthesia. The success rate - the elimination of tearing and mucus in the eye - following the probing and irrigation procedure for tear duct obstruction is about 80% when performed before 14 months of age. For those children who failed a probing and irrigation or are treated at after 15 months of age, there are alternative treatments available including balloon dacryoplasty and the temporary insertion of a tube or stent.

Is all tearing a tear duct obstruction?

Not all tearing in infants is a tear duct obstruction. There are other serious causes of tearing. Infantile glaucoma and corneal problems (such as a scratch or foreign body) may also cause tearing. The symptoms of these problems include tearing, excessive light sensitivity, squinting or blinking, pain, and, in the case of infantile glaucoma, haziness or clouding of the cornea and increased corneal size.

Should I be worried about a tear duct obstruction?

Congenital tear duct obstruction is a very common problem in pediatric ophthalmology. Diagnosis of tear duct obstruction can be made by history and by complete ophthalmologic evaluation to separate this common problem from potentially more serious disorders. Tearing and discharge problems that persist after 9 months require pediatric ophthalmologic surgical intervention. Probing and irrigation is an extremely safe and effective method of treatment.

For more information click here.

Call Dr. J Miles Burke Now

A few kind words from our Patients...

  • Dr Burke , Let me first say how fortunate Willy (my son) and I have been to have had you for a surgeon and doctor. You have a gift in making people feel so comfortable (not all people/ or doctors have that you know)! I remember the time Willy brought in a fake rubber rat (around Halloween) to "scare," you, and you walked in and threw your file of papers up in the air-it was great fun! Thanks for Everything!
  • Dr Burke, We wanted to thank you for the special care you have given our children Winston and Norah. Our kids loved coming to see you and we appreciate the special attention you give to each one. We feel very confident and comfortable in your care. Thanks Again!
  • Dr Burke is my hero! Dr. Burke is the most compassionate doctor I have ever met. I was born cross-eyed and had an eye surgery on both eyes as an infant and another surgery on one as a child. Because of my eye muscle problems, I have always been seen by a doctor with Dr. Burke’s specialties but none of my previous doctors were as caring and kind as Dr. Burke.
  • Dr Burke, First, thank you for your diagnosis and comfort you provided my wife and me with respect to our daughter Gwyneth. Our family physician's opinions mean the world to us, and she says you're the best. Your office is very fun, your staff is wonderfully pleasant and professional, and seeing you work was indeed a privilege.
  • Dr Burke examined my son’s eyes and spoke with him. You told me,"Andrew’s eyes are fine. Andrew is dyslexic." My response was: “What do we do?” You suggested the book ‘Overcoming Dyslexia,’ by Sally Shaywitz. My husband and I read the book and began practicing the principles advised. I will not lie, it was a struggle and an enormous amount of work. Within a year, Andrew’s Reading and self-esteem improved tremendously. Thank You.
  • Dr Burke, I wanted to give you an update on Elizabeth who was under your care from age 4 until a few years ago. When we left your office after she first saw you, she looked up and said, "I want to be a doctor just like Dr. Burke." Elizabeth is now in her third year of medical school and is still interested in pediatric ophthalmology. She started an ophthalmology club for the medical students and she volunteers at different events doing vision checks. You're such an inspiration to her she has said she plans on being a doctor, "Just like Dr. Burke."
  • Dr Burke, I just want to take a moment to thank you for everything you have done for our daughter. From day one you have been phenomenal; always taking your time and making sure she was comfortable with you and your procedures. She has spent the last week and a half telling everyone in the most excited tone ever,”Dr.Burke fixed my eye!” You may see a spike in referrals among three year olds (haha!!). She's your biggest fan! Thanks for being so wonderful!
  • Dr Burke, Thank you for enabling me to clearly see just how beautiful this world is, again. I am very thankful for your healing skills, but most appreciative of your exceptional thoughtfulness. Thank you for giving me a part of your vacation time-truly a gift. My fourth graders and I will benefit greatly from it. Most Appreciatively,
  • Dr Burke, We cannot thank you enough for fixing Corey's eye. He is so excited to have a normal looking eye and seeing normal. You have given him the ability to be successful at school and in life. And he hopes one day, "He can make miracles happen just like you!" We are so grateful. Thank You!