Air Coming Out of Tear Duct When Blowing Nose

February 14, 2024

If air comes out of the corner of your eye when you blow your nose, it may mean that there's a blockage in your tear duct. Usually, it's not a serious problem. But it's important to know what causes it and how to treat it to prevent complications like infections, which can spread quickly.

Tears are made in a part of your eye called the lacrimal gland. They flow across the eye to lubricate it and keep it moist. Then they drain through small holes in your eyes called puncta (one on each upper and lower lid). These are connected to ducts that carry the tears into a sac inside your nose called the lacrimal sac. The ducts have valves that typically prevent air or fluid from flowing back into the eye, but sometimes they don't work. The most common cause is a membrane in the bottom of the nasolacrimal duct that didn't open when you were born, which is known as the valve of Hasner. It's most common in babies but can happen to adults, too.

There are several ways to treat a blocked tear duct, including dilation, probing and irrigation. During this three-step technique, an eye care specialist will use a tool with a tiny balloon on it to make room in the narrowed area. This can help open a blockage caused by scarring or inflammation. The next step is probing, where an eye care professional uses special tools to look for and remove the cause of the blockage. Lastly, an eye care specialist will push saline fluid through the duct to confirm that it's wide enough and working properly.

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