At the innermost corner of the eye, nearest the nose, are the tear ducts, or a series of tiny organs known collectively as the lacryminal apparatus. When we have a cold, the flu, or an attack of hay fever, we are likely to think there is no way to stop this part of the eye from secreting tears but a blockage of this system does happen and it can become very painful indeed.
Each of the different organs that comprise the lacrimal apparatus can become injured or damaged due to illness or infection. There are different types of surgery associated with each of these organs.
The lacrimal gland, actually located on the upper, outer portion of the eye just below the brow bone is where tears are created and secreted through ducts, which bring the fluid tears to the surface and inner corner of the eye. In the inner corner of the eye are the lacrimal canaliculi, the lacrimal sac, and the nasolacrimal duct, all involved with carrying tears into the nose cavity for drainage.
One of the first symptoms of blockage within the lacrimal apparatus is a blocked eye duct. This blockage makes it impossible for the eye to stay properly lubricated and it can become painful and swollen. The blockage can occur at any point within the lacrimal system and the type of surgery required depends upon the location of the blockage.
Some of the more common forms of blocked eye duct and the surgical procedures that correct the blockage include:
- When the nasolacrimal duct is blocked, a dacryocystorhinostomy or dacryocystorhinotomy (DCR) is performed. This procedure will restore the flow of tears from the eye area and into the nose for drainage via the lacrimal sac.
- Congenital blockage of the blocked eye duct can cause the duct to close, or collapse, and prevent tears from flowing into the nose. A canaliculodacryocystostomy surgically corrects this condition by bypassing the blockage and adjoining the open end of the duct to the lacrimal sac.
- A damaged lacrimal gland is removed in a procedure called dacryoadenectomy.
- Partial removal of a damaged lacrimal gland is called dacryocystectomy.
- A dacryocystostomy involves surgical incision of the lacrimal sac to promote drainage.
- Another form of lacrimal sac incision to relieve a blocked eye duct is a dacrocystotomy.