Any health condition that can affect the eyes is serious because of the possibility that it could damage someone’s vision, or worse yet, lead to blindness. Unfortunately, a lot of people attempt to self-diagnose and treat their own eye problems at home though, which ends up causing the problem to worsen, especially in cases of dacryocystitis. So it is crucial that anyone who is at risk of developing it understands what the symptoms of it are, what causes it, and what their treatment options are.
What Is Dacryocystitis?
Dacryocystitis is an infection of the lacrimal sac that is positioned directly underneath the lower eyelid. This sac is a vessel that the body uses to store used tears in until they can be washed out through a connecting tube that drains them out through the nasal passage.
The lacrimal sac is larger than most people think. And it takes time to fill up with tears. But when it does, there is a lot of pressure built up inside it. So if anything happens to obstruct the release of the fluid in any way, it causes a lot of uncomfortable symptoms.
Developing excess fluid in the lacrimal sac happens fairly quickly too because of the way that the body naturally uses tears to lubricate the eyes and remove dust and debris from them. As soon as the tears are used, they are replaced by new ones. They are never cleaned or recycled. This process happens so easily and gently that most people don’t even realize it occurs until something interferes with the process.
What Are the Symptoms of Dacryocystitis?
Doctors who are trained in eye diseases can usually identify dacryocystitis by simply looking at someone’s eye because of the following visible symptoms that the condition causes:
Both the eye itself and the tissue positioned directly below it are very red and irritated.
There is a significant amount of inflammation and swelling of the bottom eyelid. And in the center of it is usually a large lump.
The pressure that builds up from the constant production of tears that can’t be released causes a lot of pain; most people describe as similar to sinus pressure at first. As the condition worsens, the pain can become severe enough that it has to be treated with strong, pain-relieving medications though.
One of the potential complications of dacryocystitis is lesions on the cornea. These lesions are microscopic cuts that block the field of vision because of the significant amount of scar tissue that they create. Damage to the cornea also impairs its flexibility. And these changes all affect a person’s ability to see clearly out of the affected eye. If dacryocystitis isn’t treated in time, it can cause so many lesions that a person will end up blind.
One of the easiest ways for a doctor to determine that someone has dacryocystitis is for them to press on the swollen portion of the eyelid to see if yellow or green pus comes out through the tear duct. If the tear duct is blocked, the pus can’t always be seen though. So the other symptoms are used to identify the condition.
What Causes Dacryocystitis?
The following is a list of the currently known causes of dacryocystitis:
Those who are under the age of one year old, or over the age of 41, have a much greater chance of developing an infection of the lacrimal sac because they have smaller tear ducts that prevent the drainage of the tears.
Females naturally have smaller tear ducts than males do. And this increases their risk of a blockage occurring.
Lack of Hygiene
When the skin around the eye isn’t kept clean, it increases the odds of an infection of the eyes and the tear ducts.
Exposure to Bacteria
Both streptococcus pneumoniae and staphylococcus aureus bacteria can cause dacryocystitis. The bacteria usually get in the eye by a person not washing their hands before they rub their eyes. Then, when the tears flush the bacteria into the lacrimal sac, it multiplies because it isn’t being released because of a blockage of the tear ducts.
Once someone develops dacryocystitis, they have a greater chance of getting it again. This is mainly because it isn’t easy to completely get rid of all of the bacteria in the lacrimal sac. And if even a few of them are left untreated, they can rapidly multiply again.
How Is Dacryocystitis Treated?
The first course of treatment for dacryocystitis is antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and levofloxacin. Their effectiveness depends upon how healthy a person’s immune system is though. Those who have overused antibiotics may not respond as well to them as those who haven’t.
Doctors have to drain the fluid out of the lacrimal sac too. This is done through a surgical procedure called a “dacryocystorhinostomy”. A dacryocystorhinostomy is the removal of some of the bone from the upper nasal passage, which is closest to the affected tear duct. A tube is inserted where the bone pieces used to be, which connects the lacrimal sac to the nasal passage again. So, in other words, it acts as a bypass tube for drainage.
What most find especially interesting about this surgical procedure is that it is all done through the nostrils. It leaves behind no scars on the face because the lacrimal sac is never cut into.
In cases of chronic dacryocystitis, doctors have to do a different procedure to widen the tear ducts though. And this can leave small scars, but they are barely visible.
Hopefully, you found all of this information about dacryocystitis to be informative and helpful. As you can see, this condition is easily treated by a medical professional when it is diagnosed properly. But it can quickly cause serious health problems if a person tries to treat it themselves. Because of this, it is important that nothing more than a clean, warm compress be put over the eye unless otherwise directed by a doctor.
And remember, this eye condition is fairly common, so feel free to share this information on your social media page for others to read about.