Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Dacryocystitis

(Infected Tear Duct)

Pronounced: Dak-re-o-sis-ti-tis

Definition

The lacrimal sac helps drain excess tears from the eye. The sac starts near the inner corner of the eye and runs along the side of the nose. Tears move through tear ducts into this sac. The tears are then passed out into the nasal passages.

Dacryocystitis is swelling and irritation of this sac.

Causes  ^

Dacryocystitis is caused by a blocked tear duct. Tears become trapped in the sac and form a pool. Bacteria can then begin to grow in the tear pool and create an infection. Both the trapped tears and infection will cause swelling and irritation.

Blocked Tear Duct
si55551149_97870_tear_duct

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors  ^

Dacryocystitis is most common in infants with blocked tear ducts. Other factors that may increase your chance of dacryocystitis include:

  • Local swelling or infection such as conjunctivitis or sinusitis
  • Problem with tear duct structure such as narrowing of ducts
  • Injury to eye or surrounding tissue

Symptoms  ^

Dacryocystitis may cause:

  • Reddening of the side of the nose near the inner corner of the eye
  • Tenderness of the side of the nose near the inner corner of the eye
  • Swelling or bump on the side of the nose
  • Fever
  • Mucus or pus in the corner of the eye
  • Crusty eyelids or eyelashes after sleep

Diagnosis  ^

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. Your eye will be examined. The diagnosis can be made by appearance. Fluid samples may be taken from the eye or sac. The fluid will be examined for bacteria. This test will help determine which antibiotic may work best.

Treatment  ^

For a tear duct blockage without signs of infection, the doctor may advise:

  • Warm compresses over the area
  • Gentle massage of the duct to encourage drainage

Antibiotics may be prescribed if there is an infection caused by bacteria. They usually given orally. Severe infections may need IV antibiotics.

The cause of the tear duct blockage may need to be investigated. This may require additional procedures or treatment such as:

  • Balloon procedure to open narrow tear ducts
  • Surgery to open or create a new drainage path for tears

Prevention  ^

There are no current guidelines to prevent dacryocystitis.

RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://www.familydoctor.org

Kid's Health—Nemours Foundation
http://www.kidshealth.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

Healthy Alberta
http://www.healthyalberta.com

REFERENCES:

Dacryocystitis. University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center website. http://www.umkelloggeye.org/health-library/tw9200. Updated May 12, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.

Dacryocystitis and canaliculitis. Patient UK website. Available at: http://patient.info/doctor/dacryocystitis-and-canaliculitis. Updated January 14, 2015. Accessed December 14, 2017.

Nasolacrimal duct obstruction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113767/Nasolacrimal-duct-obstruction. Updated May 31, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2017.

Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 12/20/2014