Your child’s nasolacrimal ducts are the tubes which lead from the tear ducts to the nose, where tears will eventually settle. When there is a large buildup of tears and fluid from the eyes in these ducts, they can become blocked and the tears will not drain properly out to the nose. If the problem is consistent and goes untreated, it can lead to vision loss and constant leaking out of the eyes. These blocked ducts are most common in infants, because the ducts are not always completely developed at birth. If the condition does not clear up on its own in about a year, surgery may be used to unblock the ducts.
Nasolacrimal duct surgery is a simple outpatient surgical procedure. Generally, local anesthesia is only needed for numbing purposes, but general anesthesia may be utilized for children who could be frightened by the idea of surgery and to prevent sudden movements during the procedure.
During the surgery, your child’s eye doctor will be able to access the ducts through a small opening in the eyelid. The doctor will place a small probe through the duct to push any fluid out of it. Sterilized water will then be pushed through the duct forcefully to ensure that the blockage is cleared. After the fluid is cleared, the probe will be removed. Your child will not feel any pain during the procedure and the blockage will generally not occur again after the surgery.