Tear Duct Blockage

Why are my baby’s eyes always watery?

Occasionally, during the first six months of life, an infant’s tear duct (a small tubular connection between the inner aspects of the eye at the nose) gets blocked by mucus or is too small to drain all the tears in the eyes.  Your infant may have watery eye as a result, with tears coming out of the eye instead of running down through the tear duct.  This is common condition during the first six months of age.

What can I do to unblock the tear duct?

Usually warm compresses applied to the eye (not hot) three to four times a day helps to loosen mucus blocking the opening to the tear duct.  Gently massaging the tear duct (the firm little nodule felt in the inner nasal aspect of the eye) with your little finger, three to four times a day after applying the warm compresses, helps to move fluid through the tear duct.  Massage this area with downward motion towards the tip of the nose.  Be careful not to poke your finger into the eye itself and be sure to wash your hands before and after massaging the tear duct.

When should I contact my baby’s pediatrician?

  • If the eyes get red or swollen and are difficult to open.
  • If yellowish or greenish mucus or pus is observed coming from the eyes.
  • If the condition is not improving after six to nine months of age.
  • If the redness or swelling is noted on the area of the nose close to the eye.