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DCR Surgery: Treatment for Blocked Tear Ducts

Normal Tear Duct vs Blocked Tear Duct

DCR Surgery: Treatment for Blocked Tear Ducts

We often associate our eyes with sight and vision, allowing us to perceive the world around us. But did you know that these peepers consist of many different complex components as well that enable them to function optimally and healthily? This includes our tear ducts, playing a crucial role in the draining of tears to lubricate and protect our eyes. While we may not give much thought to our tear ducts, certain conditions such as a blocked tear duct can significantly lower our quality of life. It occurs when the normal draining system for tears gets obstructed, leading to a reduced or blocked flow of tears. Fortunately, a dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) surgery is one of the treatment options available to combat this condition.

Learn more: 4 Things to Ask Your Doctor Before Any Eye Surgery

What is DCR Surgery?

DCR is a surgical procedure performed to treat a blocked tear duct, specifically addressing the obstruction in the nasolacrimal duct. This obstruction can cause excessive tearing due to the impaired drainage of tears from the eyes to the nasal cavity. DCR surgery typically involves creating a new passage for tears to drain properly. By establishing an alternate route for tear drainage, DCR helps alleviate symptoms and is usually considered when non-surgical interventions prove insufficient in resolving the obstruction.    

What Happens During the Surgery? 

Depending on your condition, preference and eye specialist, either an external or endonasal DCR may be performed. An external DCR involves making a small incision on the skin near the inner corner of the eye to access and create a new drainage pathway from the lacrimal sac to the nasal cavity through the bone. This approach is often preferred when there are anatomical challenges or a need for simultaneous procedures, such as the removal of nasal masses.

On the other hand, endonasal DCR is carried out entirely through the nasal cavity without external incisions. This approach may be favoured in cases where minimal scarring or cosmetic concerns are important to the patient. Endonasal DCR might also be considered when the blockage is limited to the lower part of the tear duct.

When Is DCR Surgery Required? 

Someone Rubbing Eye

Eye treatment methods including warm compresses and massaging the tear duct area can help to promote drainage by clearing minor blockages. In some cases, antibiotic eye drops or ointments may be prescribed to address underlying infections contributing to the blockage. Below are some of the symptoms an individual with a blocked tear duct might experience. 

  • Swelling and tenderness around the eye
  • Eye irritation
  • Mucous discharge
  • Excessive tearing or watery eyes 
  • Blurred vision
  • A feeling of something in the eye


Should any of the symptoms persist or increase in severity even after non-surgical interventions, then it serves as an indication that DCR surgery may be required.

What Are the Risks of DCR Surgery

All surgeries come with a certain level of risk and DCR surgery is no exception. Thankfully, DCR surgery boasts a high level of success rate with 90-95% for the external approach. Nonetheless, being aware of the risks involved can help patients better manage their expectations and minimise any worries. 

  • Abnormally fused tissue in the nose
  • Displacement of the stent placed in the duct
  • Excess bleeding
  • Infection
  • Prominent facial scar (external DCR only)


Ultimately, the above risks are still considered to be relatively low, especially with a skilled eye specialist in Singapore executing the procedure.

After the DCR surgery, patients can expect a recovery timeline of up to 6 weeks for complete recovery. Heeding post-operative care instructions and attending all scheduled follow-up appointments during this period is essential for a smooth and seamless recovery process!

At Nova Eye Centre, we provide a full suite of eye care solutions including DCR surgery. With over 20 years of experience, we utilise evidence-based practices to deliver suitable treatment options. Contact us today for more information

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