My Baby Had to Have Surgery for a Blocked Tear Duct

Her right eye is (was) the offender.

It started after about two weeks. Her right eye was constantly weepy, sometimes crusty. Well-meaning old ladies in the grocery store would tilt their heads and cluck, “Oh, she has a cold in her eye?”. The doctor confirmed it was a blocked tear duct and that it would most likely clear up on its own. Google said it would most likely clear up on its own.

“Gently massage it two to three times a day, that will help open it up,” said the doctor.

Oh, the nasal bridge massages I gave my first baby. Oh, the warm, wet washcloths I used to clean her goopy eye several times a day. Oh, how many times I had to explain “No, she’s not contagious.”

Her eye never did clear up which meant at 11 months my baby was anesthetized to fix her blocked tear duct.

I watched Vivi very closely to see if she developed the same blocked duct as her sister and thankfully she never did. I had pushed it all far from my mind until I went back through some pictures of Addie from her first year. There that eye was…red, crusty, weepy and swollen in every photo. Plenty of people admitted to their babies having the same trouble, but to this day I have not met anyone whose child had to have surgery to correct their blocked tear duct. (Maybe I have, it’s just not really a good thing to lead a conversation with to a new mom…”SO, HAS YOUR BABY EVER HAD SURGERY?”)


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Her eye never did get infected during the first year, I was very diligent about cleaning it properly. It was just another part to baby care for me. However I will never forget surgery day. She had to go without food for 12 hours. Her surgery was pushed back by four hours. She was a champ. I? I was a wreck. I cleared that hospital cafeteria of donuts. When it came time to hand her off to the anesthesiologist she looked so small. She looked at him, smiled and fell back asleep as he took her behind the dreaded double doors.

Dude, parents of children with very serious medical issues? I APPLAUD THE HELL OUT OF YOU. You’re strong people.

She did fine in surgery, however I have never seen a child more enraged than Addie was upon waking up from anesthesia. (Five years later when I had my first anesthetized surgery? I get why she was so pissed off. Nasty stuff.) She ate enough food in the hospital to make up for her fast, crashed out cold for the night and had pink tinged tears for about a day.

We never had trouble with that eye again.

It is rumored (on Google) that an eye that suffers from a blocked duct early in life will be more prone to infection later in life. She’s had pinkeye twice in almost seven years, both times in her right eye. Coincidence? Maybe. But she’s also right-handed which I think deserves just as much blame. (While we’re at it, let’s blame the parents who knowingly send their kids out in public with pinkeye in the first place. Good? Okay.)

Do you have any experiences with a blocked tear duct? I’m really good at photoshopping crusty eyes off of babies. Be sure to add that to my resume…


Read more about newborn eye problems at Babble’s Baby Health and Development Guide!

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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