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Tear ducts

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Tear ducts

Definition and pathologies: stenosis and partial or total occlusion of the tear ducts

Tears are usually produced to humidify the external surface of the eye and are eliminated through a series of ducts that cross the eyelid and the bones of the nose. In every eyelid there is a lacrimal punctum that forms the access to a tear duct; the superior and inferior tear ducts join into a common duct that leads to the lacrimal sac. The lacrimal sac grows thinner in its inferior part and continues in the nasolacrimal duct, which ends in the nose.


The partial or total occlusion or stenosis of the tear ducts is a frequent and particularly irritating pathology that affects patients of every age, from new-born children to elderly people. It causes a symptom called epiphora, which provokes constant lachrymation. In some cases it is associated with infections of the lachrymal apparatus. In most cases an eye examination can reveal this problem. A simple lavage of the tear ducts is sufficient enough to ascertain the total occlusion. The lavage is carried out in the clinic and is not painful: it is intended for diagnosis and not as a treatment. According to where the occlusion is located, the solution (which is a surgical operation) can be more or less invasive.


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