Blocked tear ducts in babies

Blocked tear ducts are common in newborn babies. This condition usually fades in time. It appears when the nasolacrimal duct, that carries tears from the lacrimal sac of the eye into the nasal cavity, is clogged or tightened.

The blocking doesn’t mean that there are no tears, but it is a sign that the draining system is clogged – tears can’t drain into the nose and the lacrimal sac is filled with fluid. The excessive fluid discharges causing your baby’s eyes to tear ceaselessly.

Around 7% of babies develop blocked tear ducts. This condition may affect one or both eyes. And since newborns don’t tear right after birth, the problem can stay unnoticed until the first month of your baby, when it should start to produce tears.


When the baby’s tear ducts are blocked, its eyes appear watery and tears roll down even if it’s not crying. Parents often notice mucus-like discharge in the eyes.


Usually blocked tear ducts clear up on their own. Most pediatricians wait for them to open up. In 95% of the cases under 1 year of age the condition fades in time.

Doctors often advise parents to keep their baby’s eyes clean. Sometimes they prescribe antibiotic eye creams, when there are signs of inflammation.

One of the common at-home remedies is the lacrimal sac massage. Gentle pressure mechanically causes the nasolacrimal duct membrane to open up.

If massages don’t help, there is a quick procedure called probing. It is performed under a short-term anesthesia, using thin metal instrument that is pushed into the nasolacrimal duct to open the membrane mechanically. It is efficient in 90% of the cases.

If you are worried that your baby has blocked tear ducked, you can consult one of our top ophthalmologists.