Infants do not produce tears until they are a few weeks old so a blocked tear duct may not be noticeable at birth. It may be noticeable only when the baby cries, or when tears are stimulated. Usually by the time the child is one-year-old, all blocked tear ducts open on their own.
Tears are produced in the lacrimal gland which is located under the bone of the eyebrow. Tears flow over the eye through tiny ducts along the eyelid and drains into a larger passage to the inside of the nose or the tear duct. If the openings in the tear duct do not form properly it may cause a blockage.
The blockage causes tears to build up around the eyes. There may be yellowish-white pus-like build up in the corner of the eye. Redness and swelling around the eyes and nose are also common.
If the blocked tear duct is not improving the doctor may suggest a special massage technique. Gentle massage around the eyes and cleaning the pus or tears with a warm wet cloth may help open up the membrane that is blocking the flow of tears. But if the baby rubs his eyes a lot and seems to be in pain the child should be taken to the doctor immediately.