Lacrimal Canal Obstruction: Causes, Symptoms, and the Role of Probing

The lacrimal canal, also known as the nasolacrimal duct or tear duct, is a passage that allows tears to drain from your eyes into your nasal cavity. Tears are produced by the lacrimal glands, located above the outer corner of each eye. After moistening and protecting your eyes, your excess tears will drain into these tiny openings called lacrimal puncta located on the inner corners of your upper and lower eyelids.


From the puncta, your tears travel through small canals called lacrimal canaliculi and then converge into the lacrimal sac. The lacrimal sac is a small pouch located at the upper part of your nasal cavity. Finally, tears flow through the nasolacrimal duct, which extends from the lacrimal sac and empties into your nasal cavity, allowing tears to be naturally cleared away.


Having a regular eye exam can help you detect eye conditions early on. Even though you have no signs and symptoms of having eye problems, it is best that you go to your annual eye exam. At Doral Health and Wellness Ophthalmology Center, our eye doctors in Brooklyn can schedule you for different types of eye exam. Visit our clinic or you can check our website at to see all our offered services that can help you manage your eye conditions.


The function of your lacrimal canal is to maintain the moisture of your eyes and remove the debris, providing a continuous cleansing mechanism for the ocular surface. Issues with the lacrimal system, such as blockages or obstructions, can lead to conditions like excessive tearing or dry eyes.


Lacrimal obstruction, which also means a blockage or obstruction in the tear drainage system, can have various causes and present with specific symptoms. Here are common causes and symptoms:




These are some of the most common causes of lacrimal obstruction. And they may include:

  • Age-Related Changes — As people age, the tear drainage system can narrow or become less efficient, leading to obstruction.
  • Nasal or Facial Trauma — Injuries to the nose or face can result in damage to your tear drainage system.
  • Infections — Infections of the lacrimal canaliculi, lacrimal sac, or surrounding tissues can cause inflammation and obstruction.
  • Tumors — Benign or malignant growths in your tear drainage system can lead to blockages.
  • Congenital Issues — Some individuals may be born with abnormalities in the tear drainage system that can cause obstruction.




These are some of the most common symptoms of lacrimal obstructions. They may also include:

  • Excessive Tearing (Epiphora) — Due to inadequate drainage of tears, there is an overflowing of tears, either continuously or intermittently, from one or both of your eyes.
  • Recurrent Eye Infections — Obstructions can result in stagnant tears, providing an environment prone to bacterial growth.
  • Swelling and Tenderness — Inflammation of the lacrimal sac or surrounding tissues may cause swelling and tenderness.
  • Discharge — Pus-like discharge may occur if there’s an infection.
  • Blurry Vision — In some cases, you may experience blurred vision or discomfort.


Diagnosis for these condition typically involves a thorough eye examination, imaging studies (such as dacryocystography or dacryoscintigraphy), and sometimes irrigation of the tear drainage system. Treatment options may depend on the underlying cause and the severity of your lacrimal blockage. But these options may include warm compresses, massage, antibiotics for infections, or surgical procedures to open or bypass the blocked area (called lacrimal probing). Lacrimal probing is a common procedure where a thin probe is used to open the blocked tear duct. This is often performed in cases of congenital nasolacrimal duct blockages/obstruction, and it can be both done in adults or children.


If you suspect lacrimal obstruction or experience persistent symptoms, it is important to consult with an eye care professional for proper evaluation and management.


At Doral Health and Wellness Ophthalmology Center, our eye doctors can do different kinds of eye exam. To schedule an appointment, please call us at 1-347-384-5690 or visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11212. You can also visit our website at