The nasolacrimal ducts, commonly known as tear ducts, are typically fully developed by the time a child reaches 3 weeks of age. However, around 15% of newborns may experience congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction. This obstruction primarily stems from issues with the duct opening situated in the nose, with most symptoms becoming apparent after the three-week mark.

Spotting the Symptoms

  • Continuous excessive tearing from the affected eye
  • Periodic instances of inflammation
  • The frequent presence of eye wax

Delving into the Causes

The primary cause of this condition is an anatomical abnormality of the lacrimal duct or the tear drainage system. This obstruction happens when the duct's opening is blocked by a delicate tissue membrane. Encouragingly, in about 80% of such cases, the duct tends to open fully within the infant's first 12 months.

Potential Complications

  • Conjunctivitis.
  • Abscess in the lacrimal sac.

The Examination and Diagnosis Process

Should you suspect this condition, it's essential to consult an ophthalmologist. They can perform a comprehensive examination to provide an accurate diagnosis and also rule out other potential eye conditions. To assess tear flow and drainage, tests such as the fluorescein disappearance test using fluorescein drops might be conducted.

Treatments Based on Age

For children under 1 year:

  • Crigler massage is often advised to be performed multiple times daily (for instance, 4 sessions with 10-20 rubs each).
  • Antibiotics might be prescribed in the event of an infection.

For children older than 1 year:

  • Probing could be an option, along with other potential procedures like the insertion of a silicone tube.
  • It's worth noting that in some cases, even if the child is under 1 year old, certain procedures might be recommended if infections occur frequently.