Tearing in the young child

Tearing in young children can be caused by a nasolacrimal duct obstruction. This is generally due to a membrane that remains after birth. Many times the tearing will go away with time, but after 12 months of age it may be necessary to perform a lacrimal probe to open the membrane allowing tears to flow normally. Tearing can also be a sign of pediatric glaucoma, which can be very serious. If your child is experiencing tearing they should be seen to evaluate for the above conditions.

Infant with a left nasolacrimal duct obstruction

Infant with a left nasolacrimal duct obstruction

Tearing in the adult patient

Tearing can be caused in adults from a variety of different things. Common findings include dry eye, blepharitis, iritis, and conjunctivitis. If the tears drip down your cheek it can be a sign of inflammation or obstruction of the lacrimal drainage system, which allows tears to drain from your eye to your nose. Bloody tears can be a sign of malignancy and need to be evaluated immediately.

Adult tearing/epiphora

Sometimes simple eye drops can resolve the issue. Irrigation or a small snip in the punctum can also relieve tearing. Other times more intervention is needed.

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