Definition  

The lacrimal sac helps drain excess tears from the eye. The sac starts near the inner corner of the eye and runs along the side of the nose. Tears move through tear ducts into this sac. The tears are then passed out into the nasal passages.

Dacryocystitis is swelling and irritation of this sac, which may also be infected.

Causes  

Dacryocystitis is caused by a blocked tear duct. Tears become trapped in the sac and form a pool. Bacteria can then begin to grow in the tear pool and create an infection. Both the trapped tears and infection will cause swelling and irritation.

Blocked Tear Duct  
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Risk Factors  

Dacryocystitis is most common in infants. Other factors that may increase your chance of a blocked tear duct include:

  • Nasal polyps
  • Local swelling or infection such as conjunctivitis or sinusitis
  • Problem with tear duct structure such as narrowing of ducts
  • Injury to eye or surrounding tissue
Symptoms  

Dacryocystitis may cause:

  • Reddening of the side of the nose near the inner corner of the eye
  • Tenderness of the side of the nose near the inner corner of the eye
  • Swelling or bump on the side of the nose
  • Fever
  • Mucus or pus in the corner of the eye
  • Crusty eyelids or eyelashes after sleep
Diagnosis  

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Your eye will be examined. The diagnosis can be made by appearance. Fluid samples may be taken from the eye or sac. The fluid will be examined for bacteria. This test will help determine which antibiotic may work best.

Treatment  

If you have a tear duct blockage but no signs of infection your doctor may recommend:

  • Warm compresses over the area
  • Gentle massage of the duct to encourage drainage

Antibiotics may be prescribed if there is an infection caused by bacteria. They are often given as eye drops and ointment. Severe infections may need IV antibiotics.

The cause of the tear duct blockage may need to be investigated. This may require additional procedures or treatment such as:

  • Balloon procedure to open narrow tear ducts
  • Surgery to open or create a new drainage path for tears
Prevention  

There are no current guidelines to prevent dacryocystitis.