Lacrimal Syringing Therapy

Lacrimal syringing therapy is helpful for you if your eyes keep tearing and watering. These symptoms of watery eyes can indicate a blocked or narrowed tear drainage duct. The lacrimal ducts are found in the nasal corner of your eyes and allow tears to drain out of the eyes. Without these ducts, your tears would over flow on to your cheeks and make it look like you are crying.

How is lacrimal syringing done?

A lacrimal dilator is used to widen you duct entrance after which the syringe is painlessly slid into the lacrimal drainage system. If there are no blockages the syringe slides through quite easily and the next step of passing sterile saline through is taken. Once this is passed through the system, the procedure is complete and the syringe is withdrawn.

Is lacrimal syringing painful?

Without numbing drops, syringing would be very uncomfortable. You will have a drops of local anaesthetic instilled in each eye. There is a stingy feeling with these drops which only lasts about 20 secs after which you cannot feel your eyes for 30 minutes. The numbing effect is not complete on your eyelids so the procedure is felt but not painful. The last thing you feel is the feeling of salty water in your throut (if all goes well!) as this is a good sign of opened ducts.

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How long does the procedure take?

You will need a 30 minute slot but the procedure itself takes only a few minutes per eye. This includes the preparation phase which involves consent and the instillation of numbing drops. The numbing drops will last for 30 minutes after which you can feel your eyes again. During this time it is important you do not rub your eyes as this can cause you to hurt your eyes without realising.

Is lacrimal syringing safe?

Probing the lacrimal duct does carry a very small risk of infection or damage to the duct but overall it is considered a very safe procedure. A very thin straw is passed through the lacrimal duct. This can allow the blockage to open. This if followed by passing sterile saline through the duct which further clears and opens the duct. The saline drains out through the back of the nose and into your throat, causing you to taste the salty water. As soon as you taste the salty water the process is stopped and the probe withdrawn.

Is lacrimal syringing effective?

Probing and syringing is used to investigate the lacrimal drainage as well as treat blockages there. However like all therapies, results are not guaranteed. About 60% of patients find the procedure useful in reducing their symptoms. However, if the blockage is more severe you may need to be referred to the hospital eye service to have surgery. The procedure may also need to be repeated as although it may be effective in opening the draining system, there may be blockages in future.

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