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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, which may also be infected.

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

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Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of a blocked tear duct include:

  • Nasal polyps
  • 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

The condition occurs most often in infants and can cause the following symptoms:

  • 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

Your doctor will ask 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

If you have a tear duct blockage but no signs of infection your doctor may recommend:

  • 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 are often given as eye drops and ointment. If the infection is severe you may need to receive antibiotics by IV.

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 known ways to prevent dacryocystitis.

RESOURCES:

American Medical Association
http://www.ama-assn.org

Kids Health
http://www.kidshealth.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Healthy U
http://www.healthyalberta.com

References:

Dacryocystitis. University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center website. Available at: http://www.kellogg.umich.edu/theeyeshaveit/red-eye/dacryocystitis.html. Accessed January 8, 2013.

Dacryocystitis. Patient.co.UKwebsite. Available at: http://www.kellogg.umich.edu/theeyeshaveit/red-eye/dacryocystitis.html. Accessed January 8, 2013.

Nasolacrimal duct obstruction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated July 16, 2010. Accessed November 4, 2010.



Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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