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Tear Duct Conditions

Epiphora (Eye Watering)

What is epiphora?

Epiphora is watering of the eyes, usually due to increased tear production or blockage of the tear ducts. The tear ducts collect tears from the part of the eye near the nose and send it into the nose, flushing any debris along with it.

What causes epiphora and how is it diagnosed?

Eye watering can be due to a variety of reasons, most commonly infection or swelling of the eye, nasal allergies, sinusitis, or blockage of the tear ducts after surgery or trauma. Diagnosis is made by observation of the problem. Also, sometimes fluorescein dye can be used to check if the tear duct is open. If there is blockage, the dye will not appear in the nose.

What is the treatment for epiphora?

If epiphora is due to too much tear production, as in the case of infection or nasal allergies, the treatment is correcting the original problem. Infection is usually treated with antibiotics, and nasal allergies are treated with medications.

If there is blockage of the tear duct, the cause of this is investigated. Often, an operation called dacryocystorhinostomy is performed. This widens the duct where it is blocked. Sometimes a stent is placed at the site of dilation to keep the opening from closing again.

Eye Proptosis

What is proptosis and how is it diagnosed?

Proptosis is when the eye appears to bulge out from the eye socket. This is also called exophthalmia. Often proptosis can be diagnosed just by examining the eyes. An exophthalmometer can be used to measure the degree of proptosis that is present.

What causes proptosis?

There are many possible causes for proptosis, some of which are Grave’s disease, trauma, infection of the eye, tumor in the orbit (eye socket), and certain congenital syndromes. Grave’s disease is one of the most common causes. This is an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism and deposition of tissue around the eye, causing it to bulge out of the socket.

What are the risks associated with proptosis?

If the patient is unable to close the eye completely, dryness and injury to the cornea can occur. In severe cases, blindness is possible due to compression of the optic nerve (the vision nerve) or ophthalmic artery (provides blood supply to the vision nerve).

What are the treatments for proptosis?

Treatment consists of treating the underlying cause of the proptosis, and making more room in the orbit for the eye. This can be done by removing some of the walls of the eye socket. Artificial tears or lubricants are often used to prevent dryness of the eye.

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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