Is My Tear Gland Infected?

When your tear gland is blocked, it can’t drain properly, leaving you with watery, irritated eyes. Typically, this is caused by a partial or complete obstruction. In newborns, blocked tear ducts aren’t usually a cause for concern and generally go away on their own. However, for adults, a blocked tear duct can be more serious and indicate an injury, infection or tumor. Fortunately, it’s almost always correctable. 

Below are some ways to tell if your blocked tear gland has turned into an infection and when to see your eye specialist for a proper diagnosis. 

What is an Infected Tear Duct? What Symptoms Should I Watch For? 

Infected tear ducts, or dacryocystitis, is when there is inflammation in the tear drainage system. This happens when the tear ducts are blocked and bacteria is able to collect and grow. To get rid of the bacteria, most people need an oral antibiotic. 

The most common symptoms of an infected tear duct are: 

  • Eye and eyelid redness
  • Eye inflammation
  • Excess tearing
  • Eye discharge 
  • Fever 
  • Blurred vision
  • Mucus or pus discharge 
  • Recurrent eye inflammation

How is an Infected Tear Gland Diagnosed? 

Typically, adults who have an infected tear gland notice redness, swelling and excess tearing. This is what leads them to schedule an appointment with their retina specialist. To make a proper diagnosis, your eye doctor will run a series of tests, including a dye test to see if colored fluids run out of the tear ducts. 

Generally speaking, an infected tear duct is treated with oral antibiotics because they are fast and effective. Eye infections are typically cleared up in a few days or less. However, if the infection does not respond to antibiotics, or you get blocked tear ducts on a regular basis, you may have to have surgery. 

What are the Causes of Blocked Tear Ducts?

If you are experiencing frequent eye inflammation or infections, it’s important to address this with your retina doctor. It’s possible that something bigger is going on that needs to be addressed such as: 

  • Congenital blockage
  • Age-related changes 
  • Injury or trauma 
  • Tumor in the blockage area
  • Inflammatory conditions 
  • Certain eye drops 
  • Cancer treatments 

Frequent Eye Infections Need More Attention 

In most cases, infected tear glands are easy to address and treat. A simple antibiotic is enough to ease symptoms and get rid of most infections. However, if eye inflammation or infection is common, schedule an appointment with your eye specialist to determine if something more is going on. Empire Retina Consultants can identify the root cause of your inflammation and if corrective surgery would be beneficial.