(Infected Tear Duct)
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.
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.
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Dacryocystitis is most common in infants with blocked tear ducts. Other factors that may increase your chance of dacryocystitis include:
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
- Mucus or pus in the corner of the eye
- Crusty eyelids or eyelashes after sleep
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.
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
There are no current guidelines to prevent dacryocystitis.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Kid's Health—Nemours Foundation
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 November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 12/20/2014