Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction

Although this is clearly a clinical diagnosis and the majority do not need further studies, you can do a bedside test called “Dye Disappearance Test” - Paine Podcast

Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction
Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction

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What’s that gunk in my newborn’s eye?

Gunk…not exactly a medical term, but a descriptive one nonetheless. Any parents out there reading this are probably familiar with the following scenario. After the trauma of childbirth (for mom, that is), you feel so blessed to hold your child close and the first thing you do is make sure everything on him/her is perfect. Then, a day or two later, you may notice that there’s a lot of mucus in your infant’s eye, maybe even so much to cause it to stick shut. The eye is constantly wet with tears. Is it an infection? Do you need antibiotics?

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 What’s that gunk in my newborn’s eye?

Approximately six percent of all infants are born with a nasolacrimal duct obstruction (tear duct blockage) affecting one or both eyes. Fortunately, the good news is that at least 90% of these obstructions will clear without treatment within the first year of life.


Over 5% of infants have clinical symptoms of nasolacrimal duct obstruction affecting one or both eyes. Most (approximately 90%) clear spontaneously during the first year of life.


Nasolacrimal duct obstruction (NLDO) or dacryostenosis is the most common disorder of the lacrimal system, and approximately 6 to 20 percent of newborns exhibit symptoms of this condition. Typically, NLDO presents in the first weeks or months of life with symptoms that begin when normal tear production starts, presenting with excessive tearing and ocular discharge.

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