There are tiny tubes or ducts that normally drain the tears from the eyes into the cavities near the nose. Sometimes these tiny tear ducts are not completely open at birth or become clogged later on. Excess tears then well up in the eyes.
The tears back up, causing wetness or pooling. As the watery layer evaporates, a soft mucous discharge accumulates, which can then dry and become crusty. Many newborns don’t start making tears until they are about two weeks old or a little older, so you may not notice the symptoms of a blocked tear duct until then, even if your baby was born with it.
Occasionally, tear ducts may remain closed because the nasal end of the ducts is sealed with membranous tissue. If they haven’t opened and are still not draining normally by the time your baby is 9-12 months old, we may refer you to a pediatric eye specialist.
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