If you have watery, irritated eyes, you may think that you have allergies or an eye infection. However, when you visit a doctor, they may inform you that what you are experiencing is actually a blocked tear duct. Unfortunately, this is not something most people are familiar with, which can leave you with many questions. Here are a few of the questions that you may ask if a doctor tells you that you have a blocked tear duct.

What is a Blocked Tear Duct And What Causes it?

A tear duct is a small tube that leads from the eyes and into the nose, where it can drain, if need be. When the tube is blocked, it can't drain and the water comes up the tube, instead of down the tube. This can leave you with eyes that are itchy and watery. If left untreated, the eyes can even begin to swell or pus. If you have recurring eye infections, tearing, swelling in the corner of the eyes, pus or mucus in the eye, or blurred vision, you could possibly have a blocked tear duct. Occasionally, tear ducts will unblock on their own. However, typically, they require intervention from a doctor. As such, if you have any of these signs or symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctors or ophthalmologist. Keep in mind that an optometrist is not the same as an ophthalmologist. An optometrist may be able to diagnose your condition, but they typically can't treat it. As such, you may wish to bypass the optometrist and go straight to the ophthalmologist.

There are many things that can cause a blocked tear duct. Most frequently, these blockages are caused by infections, small tumors or injuries that have occurred to the eye or between the eye and nasal passage. Additionally, blocked tear ducts can be caused by topical medications, cancer treatments, glaucoma or scarring from previous eye surgeries. It is also important to note that age does play a role in tear duct blockages, though doctors are not sure why. Blocked tear ducts are fairly common in babies under the age of one, though they typically clear on their own. And this condition is also more common in the elderly.

How Can a Blocked Tear Duct Be Treated?

Once you have been diagnosed with a blocked tear duct, you will want to know how it will be treated. A blocked tear duct can be treated in many ways. If your doctor suspects that this is just an infection, they will more than likely start you out with antibiotic eye drops. If the antibiotics don't clear up the blocked tear drop, more extensive treatment will be needed. One of these treatments is a balloon catheter dilation procedure. A balloon catheter is inserted into the tear duct and dilated. This opens up the tear duct and hopefully helps to move the blockage through the tube. Another method that is used is implanting an eye stent. Stenting is done under general anesthesia. A silicone tube is used in the corners of your eyes and passes through the drainage system from the eyes to your nose. The silicone tubing will stay in the patient's eyes for about three months before being removed. This will allow the drainage system to be kept open, while allowing the area to heal. This allows tears to flow correctly without causing inflammation or being at risk of bacterial infections.    

Finding out you have a condition you know little about can leave you with many questions. Getting answers to the questions you have about blocked tear ducts will help you to better understand the condition, what causes it and how it can be treated. You can visit a website like http://www.checdocs.org to learn more about eye treatments.