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How are tear duct infections diagnosed?

Tear duct infections are diagnosed with the following tests:

  • Dye disappearance test: An orange dye is put in the eye surface to see if it drains away from the surface of the eye. After a few minutes the eye surface should be white. If the tears and dye don’t flow through the tear duct normally, the orange dye remains
  • Irrigation of the tear duct: A small syringe and tube is used to put water into the tear duct system to see if the water flows into the nose. If the water flows into the nose, the system is most likely open. If not, there is a blockage. Sometimes pus comes out the tear duct when this is done, showing that there is an infection.
  • Dacryoscintillogram: This is an x-ray taken to see if an imaging agent placed in the eye goes into the tear duct. In some people, the tear duct has a blockage where irrigation allows water to go through but the natural flow of tears can’t go down the tear duct system.

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