Inflamed lacrimal sac: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

If the lacrimal sac is inflamed, it is called dacryocystitis. This involves swelling of the tear sac. The fluid from the surface of the eye flows into this bag. The inflammation mainly occurs in seniors and babies. This is because they often have to deal with a slower opening of the tear duct.


An inflamed tear sac can occur suddenly or chronically. The symptoms of these two forms of dacryostitis are not the same.

Symptoms of sudden dacryocystitis

  • Red swelling under the skin in the inner corner of the eye
  • Pain radiates to the nose, chin and teeth
  • Abscess sometimes bursts open on its own
  • Red whites of eyes
  • Swelling eyelids


Symptoms of chronic dacryocystitis

  • Eye often waters
  • Inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye
  • Swelling at the inner corner of the eye
  • Pus drips from eye

Dacryocystitis usually affects one eye, but the condition can also occur in both eyes at the same time. That doesn’t happen often.


The doctor can often make the diagnosis quickly. Characteristic of the condition are red swellings in the inner corners of the eyes near the nose. During the examination, the doctor also examines whether the inflammation is limited to the tear sac or whether the infection has spread to surrounding areas. During dacryocystitis, the doctor cannot assess whether the tear ducts are working properly again. This can only be determined once the infection in the tear sac has passed.


If the inflammation occurs suddenly, antibiotic treatment is started. This is done in tablet form. If the inflammation spreads to, for example, the eye socket, hospitalization is sometimes necessary. The antibiotics are then administered via an IV. It is also possible to prescribe antibiotics in drop and ointment form. The pain can be controlled with painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and naproxen. Warm dry compresses can also help the abscess to mature better and faster. If the inflammation in the tear sac does not disappear, a tube can also be inserted to open the tear drainage ducts. The probe can be applied to both children and adults. If the acute infection resolves, surgery is often performed to open the tear duct. This can prevent the tear sac from becoming inflamed again. This procedure can also be performed in patients with chronic dacryocystitis.


A tear sac becomes inflamed due to a blockage of the tear duct. This causes tears to run to the nose. Innocent bacteria can normally be found on the mucous membrane of the nose and eyes. With clogged tear ducts, these bacteria accumulate in the tear sac because they cannot escape. This causes them to proliferate, leading to an infection of the lacrimal sac. Recurrent inflammation is referred to as chronic dacryocystitis.


A number of complications can occur with dacyrocystitis. A common development is the development of a lacrimal sac fistula. This fistula forms a connection between the skin and a cavity. This fistula can occur when the abscess in the corner of the eye bursts. In addition, the infection in the lacrimal sac can spread to surrounding tissues, such as the eye socket. In severe cases, the inflammation even spreads to the meninges. These complaints are accompanied by popping eyes, double vision and damaged vision. With meningitis, fever, headache and stiffness in the neck may occur. Blood poisoning can also occur. Then immediate action must be taken.

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