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Blocked Tear Duct
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Advice about Health >
Eye Conditions > Blocked Tear Duct
Our angel is 28 months old and has been recommeded to have
surgery to unblock his tear duct in one eye. The pediatrician
hoped it would clear by 1 or 2 years but it hasn't. We saw a
pediatric opthamologist who said the surgery is simple. Has
anyone's child had it done? Are there alternatives? We don't
want to put him under general anesthia but that is the only way
it can be done. Any words from anyone who has been through
Our son was born with both tear ducts completely blocked. We
constantly cleaned and massaged the area, but he had a
continuous yellow crust around both eyes and got lots of eye
infections. We hated having to constantly give him antibiotics
and worried about long-term damage to his eyesight. He would
sometimes wake up screaming because his eyes had crusted shut.
We opted to do the eye surgery when he was 11 months old, at
Children's Hospital. It was a very positive experience,
although totally nerve-wracking for his parents - our son was
completely fine. The actual surgery lasted about 5 minutes,
but it took him a while to wake up from general anesthesia.
Then he was disoriented and upset for a couple minutes, but
they had me hold and nurse him to calm him down, and by that
afternoon he was 100% normal. The surgeon (sorry, don't recall
his name), told us that the tear ducts would never have opened
up on their own. Now he's 5 years old and has never had any
recurrence. BUT our daughter, who isn't yet one, was born with
one blocked tear duct. It's not nearly as severe and she hasn't
had an eye infection yet. So we're monitoring it and hoping it
will go away and will face a more difficult decision with her.
I have to say, though, I think that the older the child is, the
harder surgery will be for her emotionally -
our son had no idea what was happening to him and never
remembered it and that's a good thing.
My son also had a blocked tear duct which we all suffered for
months of eye infections and having to torture him with eye
drops. I finally had the procedure done when he was about 11
months old. They told me (this was in Berlin) that after one
year it becomes more difficult because of the build up of scar
tissue. Here in the states I have also heard you should wait
longer to see if it will clear. We were scared of the general
anesthetic but it worked beautifully, the problem was gone
forever. I highly reccomend doing it. I read through some of
the old postings on the subject and I read nothing but positive
outcomes. We also tried all the different massage techniques,
they didn't help at all. Good luck!
I didn't see your original post, but I wanted to tell you that my twin
were both born with blocked tears ducts. They turn 3 years old this week
and their eyes are now completely free and clear of blockage/infection.
We never did go through with the surgery, though they were scheduled
twice. Honestly, we were just too scared after nearly losing one of them
at birth. One twin, in particular did have pretty bad symptoms at times,
but gradually their eyes improved. One twin was clear before his second
birthday and the other by 2-1/2.
We loved Dr. William Good in Walnut Creek. He's has an excellent
reputation and bedside manner, gave us all the facts and never pushed
us. In our case I'm glad we waited. Best of luck whatever you decide!
Our 18 mth old son has one blocked tear duct and we've met Dr.
Silkiss. With our insurance we can see anyone & while I've read
the great reviews of Dr. Susan Day (CPMC) - everyone assures us
this is a straightforward procedure & that Dr. Silkiss is
excellent. We are in the east bay so Oakland is easier. Anyone
had Dr. Silkiss do this surgery on their toddler/baby? Would you
reccomend her? She'd do it at children's hospital in oakland.
Don't know about your doctor, but Dr. William GOod in San Ramon
and San Francisco and Walnut Creek is the finest ped.
ophthalmologist in Northern California. He's an excellent
diagnostician and operated on 3 friends' children; two of whom
had complicated issues and formerly failed eye surgeries from
My 22 months daughter has a block tear duck in one of her eyes.
Her eye is always red and looks like she's crying or has pink
Our pediatrician recommended Dr. Kosiglu from Children hospital.
We met with him and he said that if it doesn't go away by the
time she is two, we will have to do a surgery to open the
blockage. If you did decide to go through the operation can you
recommend a name of a Dr. for a second opinion? Or the name of
Dr. that did the operation on your child.
If you saw and used the services of Dr. kosiglu what was your
I did read the information on the web site, which was very
useful, and I saw one Dr. name from WC. Would like very much to
hear from more people about their experience.
I would recommend Rona Silkiss for a second opinion. She
specializes in oculo-plastics, so she is not exclusively a
pediatric ophthalmologist. But, for this procedure, I would
recommend an oculo-plastics ophthalmologist opinion as well as a
pediatric ophthalmologist opinion.
My two and a half year old daughter was born with two blocked
tear ducts. As an infant, she had chronic eye infections because
of the constant moisture around her eyes. Since she was about
one, the infections have stopped, but the ducts are still
blocked. Her pediatrician referred her to a pediatric
opthomologist, Eddy Tamuara at Kaiser Oakland.
Dr. Tamura has recommended a surgical procedure to open the
ducts. He says to do it before she is three. I am not crazy
about the idea of general anesthetic, (although the out patient
procedure is only about 15 minutes), so I am a bit reluctant to
do it unless it is necessary. He said that the risk of not doing it
now, is that she will most likely have to have a silicon tubes in
her eyes for a few months in the future, and if that doesn't work, she
will have to do it again.
Has anyone gone through this? If so, what if anything did you
do? If anyone did nothing, did the problem eventually resolve
itself? Currently, my daughter doesn't seem particularly
bothered, other than when she has a cold or it is windy.
Finally, has anyone had any experiences (good or bad) with Dr.
Eddy Tamura at Oakland Kaiser? Thanks much.
I don't have experience with your daughter's condition, but my
child sees Dr. Tamura at Kaiser Richmond (he works there once
every 2 weeks) and we are satisfied with his level of care. He
is thorough, knowlegeable and has a positive attitude. Children
like him and he is kind. His course of treatment has improved
my child's vision and stabilized the condition.
I hope this helps
Our daughter had blocked tear ducts as well when she was a baby. She
had her surgery at Kaiser Pleasanton. I was mortified to have my
daughter have general anesthesia as well, but all went well. The
procedure itself only took about 5 minutes. Really, it's very
quick. The harder part for our daughter was that she couldn't eat or
drink anything for many hours prior to surgery. That meant she
couldn't have anything when she woke up in the morning. Being an
infant, she couldn't understand that, of course. We had to do a pretty
serious job of distracting her. They gave her something pre-op to calm
her down. She got pretty relaxed and went easily with the
nurses. Again, the surgery doesn't take long. Post-op once the child
comes out of the anesthesia they are really grouchy. I just rocked
with her (they had a rocking chair in her post-op room) to calm her
down and she slept for a long time. You do have to wait a few hours
until it's safe to take her home. When she can eat, it's crackers and
the like at first. Anyway, she was very tired that day and we just
hung out at home and cuddled a lot, and she was totally fine. She
hasn't had any problems with her eyes since. It is totally
nerve-wracking to have your child have surgery, as minor as this one
is. This was our first time and I was in much worse shape than my
daughter. She did great. Good luck!
Our three month old has clogged tear ducts without any type of
infection. The resulting eye discharge is copious and seems to
bother him. While our pediatrician said this can go on for up
to a year without any negative consequences, we are interested
in finding out about other alternative treatment options to
clear it up sooner. We have been massaging the tear ducts and
have applied breastmilk without success. Any ideas?
Tearful in Berkeley
We are the family that posted the note in April with the 15-
month-old who had a clogged tear duct. We actually ended up
going ahead with the surgery at Children's Hospital and
although it was a bit stressful, it has been successful. Our
daughter's tearing has basically stopped except for some very
minor tears when she had a cold.
Since your child is still so young, however, I would recommend
waiting until 1 years old at least since he can grow out of it
and especially since he has had no infection. We finally went
ahead with the surgery because our daughter was getting many
infections and it was getting more and more difficult to put
drops in her eyes. She got the first infection around 4 or 5
months, so I'd definitely just keep a close look out. But I
would recommend waiting.
We had the same problem with one of my daughters. I massaged the
inner corner of eye few times a day,every day for about a week,
with a little cotton pad (the kinds used in removing makeup)
dipped in warm chamomille tea. I would start by applying the pad
to her eye for 30sec and then massage it with circular motions.
The warmth opens up the duct and the chamomille tea is a very
good disinfectant. I would make a chamomille infusion every
morning, store it in the fridge and use it throughout the day.
I have never heard of the breast milk massage. My intuition
tells me that bacteria would thrive in that breast milk left in
or around the eye possibly causing infections.
Our son also had this problem. We saw a pediatric ophthomolgist
at Stanford (we were living near Palo Alto at the time) when my
son was 18 months. He said we could wait but that it probably
wouldn't get better and that the risk of not doing it was eye
infections. We went ahead and had him open it up surgically. It
was, of course, scary for all of us, but he had no lasting
trauma. The surgeon said afterward that the clog was so bad that
it would not have opened on its own.
Try hot compresses--a clean washcloth with water as warm as
your son can tolerate--it worked well for me, but my tear duct
was not a chronic problem...(I did it four or five times a day)
My daughter had a clogged tear duct when she was 2 months old
and the doctor gave us an antibiotic drop and it went away in a
couple of weeks. I have also heard that if you are nursing to
gently put a little breast milk on the duct. Breast milk has
an antibiotic property in it and has worked for many people to
clear up the clogged tear duct as well.
When massage and warm compresses don't do it, I find that
homeopathic silica 6X (cell salt), 2-3 pellets a few times
daily, can help open up the duct. The cell salts come in the
soft tablets (like the teething tablets), and dissolve instantly
in babys mouth, so there is no risk of choking. Good luck!
I am looking for advice from parents of children who have
suffered a clogged tear duct. We have a 15-month-old who has had
this problem since birth and are considering probing to fix it
as massage and various antibiotics have not worked. Any
information you can share about your experience with probing
and/or eye doctors to treat a clogged tear duct would be
Our now 9-year old son had this problem at about the same age. At
the advice of, I think, someone in La Leche League, my wife tried
squirting a little breast milk in each eye (gently, of course!).
After a day or so, the clogging disappeared, never to return! It
seems that there is some anti-bacterial substance in the milk
that cleared out whatever bacterial colony was clogging the duct.
I can only guess that once the irritation was gone, the duct
widened enough that the free flow of tears kept it from
re-occurring. If it doesn't work for you, at least it's quick and
Our son was diagnosed with a clogged tear duct and we decided
not to do anything much. We did some massage (not very
diligently) but eventually the problem disappeared, probably by
the time he was four. I'm glad we waited it out.
We had the same situation 14 years ago with my daughter.
The pediatrician cleared the tearduct during an office visit (at
about 13 months), by running the tip of her fingernail firmly
up the side of the baby's nose, where the duct was located.
The clog popped out and the problem never recurred.
While I wouldn't recommend doing this yourself, your
pediatrician might be willing to give it a try before scheduling
a more invasive probe.
After many months of massage, breast milk, etc, my son's tear
duct did not clear up either. At 9 months old, we had the
surgical probe done to open the duct. Our Ped referred us to
Gordon Smith at 130 La Casa Via, Bldg 1, Ste 205 in Walnut Creek
925.943.1431. HE WAS AWESOME!! My son had trust in him, as did
my husband and myself and we have had no issues since. Dr. Smith
told us that whenever a cold or a reason his sinuses swells, we
will have minor issues, but it is minimal and has now been a
year. No more red skin rashes from the moisture build up around
his eye, no more gunk, no more looking like he's crying or has
pink eye!! We are so glad we did it. The procedure was in and
out and there was minimal pain and barely a bruise afterwards.
He was back at his home day care two days later! Dr. Smith told
us that if massage, etc doesn't help by six months, it won't
clear up on its own.
Good luck to you.
Our son had the same problem. We were told that as he grows
older, the diameter of the duct might increase, and solve the
problem. But there were no guarantees. So we decided to have the
surgery when he was about 15 months. We figured it would be more
difficult when he was older. The surgery went fine, but of
course we were worried, especially about the general anesthesia.
It was over in 45 minutes, and he was a little cranky when he
come to. We had it done at Children's hospital, and they were
Hi there -
My, now 3 year old had a clogged tear duct. We took him at 18
months to Dr. Susan Day in SF. We were concerned about
anastegia and really wanted to put surgery off. By 2 years
old, he really was only tearing when he had a cold. He now
still is teary sometimes, but 85% of the time he is fine. My
peditrician said it is very rare that a child will outgrow this
condition past 1, but waiting worked for us.
However, I do understand the surgery takes less than 15 minutes
and is relatively low risk.
Our son had a clogged tear duct off and on till he was about two,
and then it stopped happening. At the time, it seemed like such
a long time for it to be going on. We did consider surgery but
just procrastinated and eventually it went away. Now, in retrospect,
I hardly remember it as a problem.
My husband has been suffering with a leaky eye for a few years.
He has seen half a dozen opthomologists, who all just suggested
massaging the tear duct and taking drops for dry eye. Nothing
has worked, and it is driving him nuts. Can anyone suggest a
specialist who has successfully treated this condition? He is
willing to try anything (even non-traditional medicine), but we
need some help with this soon!
Just sign us...
I don't know if your husband has tried either of the Dr.
Sorenson's (they're brothers I think), across the street from
Alta Bates. My mom has had a blocked tear duct similar to your
husband's problem many times, and Dr. Sorenson has opened the
tear duct by carefully threading a tiny probe through the tear
duct after numbing the area with anesthetic drops. Good luck.
this page was last updated: Aug 23, 2010
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