Correct Persistent Tearing Problems with Tear Duct Surgery

Tear duct surgery is an ophthalmologic procedure that corrects malfunctions of the tear duct, including excessive tearing or an infection or obstruction in the tear duct. When tears cannot drain normally, patients may experience watery, irritated eyes, and suffer from chronic eye infections.

If you suffer from excessively watery eyes, Dr. Dustin Heringer or Dr. William McLeish at Arizona Ocular and Facial Plastic Surgery will perform a thorough examination to determine if tear duct surgery or a more conservative treatment at our Scottsdale, AZ, practice is the right solution for your needs. 

The Examination

To determine the cause of your tearing, the doctor will perform a complete exam, which may include measurements of your tear production, and an examination of the function and placement of your eyelids and the surrounding muscles. The doctor will check for signs of infection, such as redness or swelling in the lower eyelid, or discharge in the eye.

Your doctor may also perform an irrigation test to determine if you have a tear duct blockage: the doctor will place a fluorescent dye in the corner of your eye. If the dye remains in the eye, rather than draining, the doctor can diagnose a tear duct blockage.

Treatment

man taking eye dropsThe treatment prescribed by Dr. Heringer or Dr. McLeish will depend upon the cause of your blockage. If the cause is an infection, you may need only antibiotic eye drops to clear the ducts and allow the eyes to drain normally.

If a facial injury caused the blockage, the doctor may advise waiting for the injury to heal. As swelling from the injury diminishes, the ducts may become unblocked on their own.

For patients who simply have a narrow puncta (tear duct opening), the doctor may perform an easy outpatient procedure, which involves the use of a small probe to dilate the puncta, followed by a flushing of the duct. The doctor may also use a balloon catheter to dilate the duct and open the blocked area.

If you are experiencing excessive tearing, don’t wait for it to clear up on its own.
If non-invasive treatments are not successful, the doctor may determine that you have a severe duct blockage, and that the best treatment option is tear duct surgery.

Tear Duct Surgery

There are two primary methods of performing tear duct surgery:

  • External Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) – The doctor will make an incision on the side of your nose near the lacrimal sac (where tears drain from the eyelids). He will connect the sac to the nasal cavity, and place a stent in the passageway. The doctor will then close the incision using stitches.
  • Endoscopic Surgery – The doctor will use microscopic instruments, including a tiny camera, to clear the blockage through your nasal opening. Since the doctor makes no incision, this method leaves no scars, but the procedure has a lower success rate than DCR surgery.

After your surgery, the doctor will provide eye drops and a nasal spray to alleviate any inflammation and protect against infection. If the doctor inserts stents into the tear ducts, you will return in three to six months to have them removed.

Schedule Your Consultation

Our eyes are one of our most precious assets, and too often, people take them for granted. If you are experiencing excessive tearing, don’t wait for it to clear up on its own. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Heringer or Dr. McLeish.

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