The cure for a blocked tear drainage system is DCR. Because of age, injury, or chronic sinus disease, the bony tunnel that drains tears from the eye into the nose can become blocked. Tears may then back up and run down the cheeks and, in some cases, an infection can develop underneath the skin between the eye and the nose (“dacryocystitis”). Many patients complain also of a sticky discharge and eye irritation.
In a DCR, an incision is made near the inside corner of the eye or within the nose and a new opening is made to allow tears to drain from the eye into the nose. A flexible stent tube may be left in place for a few weeks to months (sometimes longer) to keep the new drain open. This tube can be removed in the clinic. The goal of surgery is to eliminate tearing, discharge, and irritation, and reduce the risk of infection. Surgery can be performed under local or general anesthesia and usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half.
A DCR will not directly affect your vision though many people see better after surgery because they no longer have tearing or discharge from the eye. If an incision has been made on your skin, a small scar will be created.
You may decide to live with the tearing, discharge, and irritation that a blocked tear duct can cause. However, if you have had an infection, your surgeon will likely advise surgery to prevent future infections, since these can, in rare circumstances, lead to vision loss. If your tear duct is completely blocked, there is no other surgery, injection, or medicine available to treat this condition.