Most of your tear fluid flows from glands above each eye. Tears drain through small openings at the inner corners of your eyelids, accumulate in small sacs and then flow into your nose through tubes called nasolacrimal ducts. According to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, tear duct blockage affects more than 5 percent of babies during their first year of life, usually due to delayed maturation of the nasolacrimal ducts. In older children and adults, causes of tear duct blockage include infections, nasal injuries and certain medications, among others. Home remedies might help clear a blocked tear duct in infants. However, older children and adults usually require medical treatment for this condition.
Tear Duct Massage
Blocked tear ducts in babies usually resolve within the first year of life as the nasolacrimal ducts mature and open. Some doctors recommend a special type of eye massage to encourage opening of the duct. Using a cotton-tipped swab, gentle pressure is applied to the nose next to the eye. The swab is gently stroked downward along the nose. This is repeated for 10 strokes and performed twice daily, in the morning and evening. If your fingers are small enough, you can use your index fingers instead of a cotton swab. Just be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before performing this massage technique on your baby.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that this type of massage is not effective for adults with a blocked tear duct as the underlying causes are different in adults versus infants.