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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 11092
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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Will gentle eye massage help with epiphora in a newborn baby

Resolved Question:

Will gentle eye massage help with epiphora in a newborn baby? Also how is epiphora diagnosed in a newborn?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
It is diagnosed when the baby has a watery eye all the time that is not associated with crying. Nasal lacrimal duct obstruction (NLO) is the most common cause of infantile epiphora and occurs in about 5% of babies. In NLO the tear duct does not open at birth, usually due to a small flap (valve) of tissue blocking the end with the remainder of the lacrimal system being normal. On rare occasions a secondary bacterial infection (dacryocystitis) can set in causing a yellowish, purulent discharge. Antibiotics. along with gently massage, would be indicated in such a case.

Non-infected NLO is treated with lacrimal sacmassage using the parents index finger to gently push on corner of the eyelids toward the nose with the hope of causing enough hydrostatic pressure to snap open the obstruction. The majority of cases either resolve spontaneously or with this simple technique.

If dacryocyctitis is present, or if the NLO has not resolved with the above treatment by about 4 months of age a evaluation by an ophthalmologist is indicated. In the office the ophthalmologist can do a nasolacrimal duct probing which resolves the issue in over 90% of cases. If this does not work a silicone tube can be threaded through the lacrimal system. This tube is then left in place for approximately 6 months and resolves the NLO in a greater then 95% of cases. This procedure is usually done in the operating room under general anesthesia.


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Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
PS: Congrats on the new addition to the family :o)