Tearing. Tears. They come when we’re happy. They come when we’re sad. It’s that simple, right? No. As an ophthalmologist and oculoplastic surgeon, Dr. Murrell knows there is much more to tears than that. The eyes rely on a healthy tear film for comfort and good vision. They need a reliable cover of tears all day every day. Crying is in excess. It is above and beyond what the eyes need on a day-to-day basis. Serious consequences can occur when there is a disruption to the natural production or drainage of tears. Here’s what you should know.
How Tears Work
Tears are produced by glands in the eye, including the meibomian glands and the lacrimal glands. Tears aren’t just water. They are a precise combination of mucus, oil, and water. They enter the eye through the lacrimal glands. Once on the surface of the eyes, tears are spread by blinking. Some of the fluid evaporates. Some is absorbed. The rest drains through the puncta, tiny ducts at the inner corners of the eyes. If there is a blockage here, the eyes water excessively.
Causes of a Blocked Tear Duct
Blocked tear ducts are relatively common for newborns. Approximately 20% experience this mild problem. In that case, it is usually because the drainage channels have not fully opened. Typically, newborns outgrow this issue in time. Children and adults, however, develop blocked tear ducts because of some type of physical problem. Treatment is often needed to restore proper drainage.
Tear ducts may get blocked from a physical object, like a fleck of debris. Some people develop tear duct blockage after undergoing medical treatment or after an injury to the eye or nose. A growth or infection may also block the tear duct.
Blocked tear ducts aren’t all treated the same. With various causes, this condition requires a comprehensive examination to determine the best course of treatment. That may involve removing an obstacle, medication to treat infection, or a minor procedure to insert tiny tubes that hold the drainage channels open.
Excessive tearing can occur for different reasons. If this problem persists, a thorough ophthalmic exam is warranted. We’re here to help. Call (806) 351-1177 to schedule a visit to our Amarillo office.