Excessive tearing (also known as Epiphora) can be a huge inconvenience, both interfering with the quality of your vision and ultimately causing damage to the delicate skin of your eyelid if left untreated. A normal, healthy eye produces tears as a way to keep the surface of the eye from drying out. When tears are secreted onto the surface of the eye, your eyelids work to spread the tear film and pump those tears into the drainage system (also known as your eyes nasolacrimal system).
Blockage of the Nasolacrimal System
The nasolacrimal system that drains tears from your eyes and into your nose can become narrowed or blocked. When this happens, your tears have nowhere else to flow from your eyes and spill down your cheeks. This is most commonly the case when a patient complains of excessive tearing. A blocked tear duct can also become infected which is known as dacryocystitis. This blockage and possible infection can occur anywhere along the tear duct but most commonly occurs within the nasolacrimal sac. At Ophthalmic Associates of the Southern Tier, we can test the health of your nasolacrimal system and determine the site of the blockage along with the severity of the obstruction.
What are the Symptoms of a Blocked Tear Duct?
When a complete blockage of the nasolacrimal system occurs, there can be other symptoms besides just watery eyes. Along with excessive tearing, a patient may experience mucous discharge, painful swelling and redness in the inside corner of the eye, and various levels of eye irritation. If left untreated, the infection can spread around the eye and face. While the infection is often treated with antibiotics, the more permanent fix is surgical treatment.
Endoscopic DCR and External DCR – Treating Watery Eyes
Dacryocystorhinostomy or DCR is the procedure to create a new drain for tears to flow through between the eye and the nose. Dr. Wei Patch of the Ophthalmic Associates of the Southern Tier is trained extensively in nasolacrimal surgery and nasal endoscopic surgery. These two types of DCR surgery are known as external and endoscopic.
During an external DCR, a small incision is made in the corner of the eyelid. An opening in the nasolacrimal sac is created and a tiny stent is left in the new tear drain until the new system is completely healed.
During an endoscopic DCR, the same process new drain is created as an external DCR except without the need for an incision. An endoscopic DCR involves a nasal endoscope (or camera) that utilizes specialized instruments to repair your nasolacrimal system from within your nose. This leaves no visible incision, quicker healing times and reduced downtime for patients. This surgery usually takes around an hour and is performed under local sedation or general anesthesia administered by an anesthesiologist.
Schedule a Watery Eyes Treatment Consultation Today
If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wei Patch and the team at Ophthalmic Associates of the Southern Tier regarding external or endoscopic DCR tear drainage surgery, contact our office today of fill out the consultation request form on this page.