Babies are sometimes born with a blocked tear duct. This causes excessive tear production, may create vision problems and can lead to infections which are sometimes serious. About 90 percent of children will grow out of this by the time they reach their first birthday, but in cases where this does not happen, or for babies who suffer multiple or serious eye infections, lacrimal surgery may be needed. Adults often require tear duct surgery to bypass the blockage and restore the normal tear drainage to prevent infections and resolve the watery eye.
What Is Lacrimal Surgery?
In childer, the lacrimal surgery is best performed when the child is about a year old. Dr. Schiller works with anesthesiologists who specialize in children’s anesthesia, so both you and your child will be as comfortable as possible. Adult lacrimal surgery is performed under intravenous sedation as an outpatient.
When to See a Doctor
If you notice that one or both of your child’s eyes waters excessively, even if he or she is not crying, the child wakes up with crust on his eye or in his eyelashes, or if your child is suffering from an eye infection, call your pediatrician or set up a consultation with Dr. Schiller. If left untreated, these infections can spread and the blockage can abscess. Adults with watery eyes that do not respond to standard treatments for dry eye should be evaluated for tear duct blockage.
Pediatric Tear Duct Surgery Procedure
Once the child is under anesthesia, Dr. Schiller will run a thin, blunt metal tube through the tear duct down towards the nose to clear the blockage. This simple procedure is effective in 95 percent of cases. For more extensive blockages, Dr. Schiller may use a balloon catheter to widen the tear duct. If tubes are used, they are usually removed after three months. In some adult cases, however, a permanent Jones’ Tube may be needed.
The Jones’ Tube is used in adults in severe cases when a tear duct has been damaged beyond the point of being repaired. This tube is made from a tempered glass that will not break, even if you are hit directly on the nose. Jones’ Tubes are meant to be permanent, but they can sometimes become dislodged, and may need to be replaced after a few years if protein deposits build up on the lining of the tube.
Dr. Jeffrey Schiller, MD is an experienced ophthalmic surgeon who has been practicing for over 20 years. He specializes in facial and eye surgeries including his signature cosmetic procedure—blepharoplasty. Dr. Schiller treats patients of all ages from infants to the elderly. If your child needs lacrimal surgery or is experiencing symptoms of a blocked tear duct, contact Dr. Schiller’s office to set up a consultation.