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Tears normally drain from the eye through small tubes called tear ducts, which stretch from the eye into the nose. In babies, a blocked tear duct occurs when these tubes get blocked or do not open properly. This can cause your child's eye to be teary and produce a yellowish white substance. If a tear duct remains blocked, the tear duct sac fills with fluid and may become swollen and inflamed. Sometimes it can get infected.
In most cases, babies born with a blocked tear duct do not need treatment. The duct tends to open up on its own by the time your child is 6 months old. If the duct does not open, a procedure called probing can be used to open it. In the meantime, you can take care of your child at home by keeping the eye clean. This can help prevent infection. If the duct gets infected, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: May 27, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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