• Dacryocystitis

    (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, which may be due to infection.


    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
    si55551149 97870 tear duct
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Risk Factors

    Dacryocystitis is most common in infants with blocked tear ducts. Other factors that may increase your chance of dacryocystitis 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


    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
    • Fever
    • Mucus or pus in the corner of the eye
    • Crusty eyelids or eyelashes after sleep


    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.


    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 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.


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

    Nemours Kids Health http://www.kidshealth.org


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

    Healthy Alberta http://www.healthyalberta.com


    Dacryocystitis. University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center website. Available at: http://www.kellogg.umich.edu/theeyeshaveit/red-eye/dacryocystitis.html. Accessed November 4, 2015.

    Dacryocystitis and canaliculitis. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Dacryocystitis-and-Canaliculitis.htm. Accessed November 4, 2015.

    Nasolacrimal duct obstruction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 15, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2015.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.