What is Tearing (Epiphora)?
Tearing is a common complaint and is due to either overproduction of tears or inadequate drainage of tears.
What Causes Tearing?
One of the most common problems is an obstruction of the nasolacrimal outflow tract, which carries the tears away from the eye. When the nasolacrimal outflow tract is blocked, tearing can occur because there is no way for the tears to naturally drain away from the eye. In some cases, infection can occur, leading to dacryocystitis and the need for more rigorous medical and surgical therapy.
Who Gets a Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction?
Tearing in adults can be caused by a variety of underlying problems. When a blockage of the nasolacrimal outflow tract is present, surgery may be necessary to reconstruct a new pathway for the tears to drain into the nose. A dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) is a common procedure in which the nasolacrimal tract is rerouted around an obstruction. This procedure has a very high chance of success.
In children with congenital blocked tear ducts, the condition often will spontaneously correct itself by one year of age. If the tearing does not resolve, either probing or placement of a stent can be performed with a very high degree of success.