Your eye's tear duct system is well-designed to help keep your eyes healthy and working well. However, sometimes that system breaks down and you either end up with excessively dry eyes, or really watery ones. This can be both uncomfortable and cause more eye problems down the road. Here is more information about how your eye ducts work as well as signs that you have a problem.
Ways Your Tear Ducts Work
First, tears are formed in the lacrimal gland above the upper eyelid. Then, these tears are swept across the eye with your lid and lashes to remove dirt and debris and the keep the cornea moist. The tears drain through a duct in the inside corner of the eye and that duct continues into the back of the nose where the tears are reabsorbed.
Common Problems With Tear Ducts
Tear ducts can be blocked or damaged to the point where the eyes won't drain properly. Ducts can also be affected by infections and diseases, such as pink eye and sinus infections, and cause swelling and blockage. In some cases, the lacrimal gland itself is affected by these issues and you may not get enough tears to begin with.
Signs of Tear Duct Problems
Tear duct problems not only cause excessively watery eyes, but also redness and even blurred vision. Eyes without enough tears are very uncomfortable and may feel gritty or as if you have a foreign body under your eyelid. Pain and swelling at the corner of the eye as well as eyelid crustiness or stuck eyelids are other signs of a problem.
Treatments for Tear Duct Problems
If you have a mild case, occasionally using over-the-counter eye drops are enough to remedy the situation. If the problem is an infection, then an ophthalmologist may prescribe medicated eye drops to remedy the problem. With more serious problems, stents, plugs, or even surgery may be necessary.
Preventing Tear Duct Problems
An occasional problem with your tear ducts should not be a problem. Remember to blink often whenever you work on the computer for a long time to prevent dryness. Don't press on the tear ducts or rub your eyes excessively. If you must touch your eye, such as when you insert contact lenses, make sure your hands are clean. Clean any crustiness on your eyelids with a warm wash cloth.
Tear ducts are important to keeping your eyes healthy and working well. When your tear ducts don't work, you could end up with eye problems that could affect your vision. If you are having problems with either dry or watery eyes, then contact an ophthalmology service for a thorough examination.