The tear sac is a small chamber into which tears drain. The usual cause of dacryocystitis is a blockage of the nasolacrimal duct, which leads from the tear sac into the nose.
Where Tears Come From
Dacryocystitis may occur suddenly (acute) or be longstanding (chronic).
Symptoms of Dacryocystitis
Often the dacryocystitis infection is mild. Sometimes, the infection is severe and can cause fever. Sometimes a collection of pus (abscess) may form, which can rupture through the skin, creating a passage for drainage.
In acute dacryocystitis, the area around the tear sac is painful, red, and swollen. The area around the eye may become red and watery and may ooze pus. Slight pressure applied to the tear sac may push thick material through the punctum (the opening at the inner corner of the eyelid near the nose). Because drainage is affected, there is excessive tearing from the eye.
Chronic dacryocystitis causes the skin over the small chamber into which tears drain (tear sac) to bulge. When pressure is applied, the bulge may not be painful, but a puslike or cheeselike material often comes out of the opening at the inner corner of the eyelid near the nose (punctum or tear duct). People with chronic dacryocystitis often also have chronic conjunctivitis Infectious Conjunctivitis Infectious conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva usually caused by viruses or bacteria. Bacteria and viruses can infect the conjunctiva. Redness and tearing or discharge are common... read more (pink eye).
Diagnosis of Dacryocystitis
Symptoms and a doctor's examination
A doctor bases the diagnosis of dacryocystitis on the symptoms and examination findings.
Treatment of Dacryocystitis
For acute dacryocystitis, antibiotics followed by surgery
For chronic dacryocystitis, surgery
Acute dacryocystitis is usually treated with an antibiotic taken by mouth. If a fever is present or if the infection is severe, antibiotics given by vein may be required. Applying warm compresses to the area several times a day also helps. After the acute infection resolves, doctors recommend that people have surgery to bypass the blockage (dacryocystorhinostomy [DCR]) so that infection does not recur. DCR is also the main treatment for chronic dacryocystitis.