237309 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Dacryocystitis

    (Infected Tear Duct)


    Lacrimal sacs help drain excess tears from the eye. The sac sits along the side of the nose and starts near the inner corner of the eye. Tear 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.


    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

    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


    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


    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 an 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


    There are no known ways to prevent dacryocystitis.


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

    Kids Health http://www.kidshealth.org


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

    Healthy U 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 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.

    Revision Information

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