ZocdocAnswersMy left eye often has clear sometimes stringy discharge, what causes this?

Question

My left eye often has clear sometimes stringy discharge, what causes this?

I have a history of sinus problems, but I am not allergic to anything. I am 34, a smoker and mother of a 6 year old. It only occurs in the left eye and is neither painful but occurs weekly. If I press on my eyelid I can feel the discharge and feel it along my inner eye and nose. Would an ophthalmologist or general doctor help me figure what causes this and what to do to help me?

Answer

It sounds a lot like what you are experiencing is something called dacryostenosis, or blockage of the tear duct. As you may know, the tear ducts drain tears from the inside corner of the eye down into the nasal passage. Sometimes, a blockage of these ducts can occur, which can lead to a buildup of material that can be expressed by squeezing on the lower eyelid and along the side of the nose, just as you describe. This problem is more common in children,where it tends to be something they are born with, but it can also develop in adults, especially in those with chronic sinus and nasal allergy problems. The best treatment for this includes getting your nasal and sinus symptoms under control. This may require saline irrigation of the nose, prescription nasal steroid sprays, or antihistamines. Additionally, quitting smoking will help considerably with the sinus symptoms. If getting the sinus and nasal symptoms controlled does not improve the symptoms of drainage from the tear duct, then you might need to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist to see if a minor surgical procedure on the tear duct is indicated in order to open it up and help it to drain better.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.