Nasolacrimal duct evaluation

Assesses drainage function, aiding in diagnosing and treating tear duct abnormalities.

Table of Contents

Understanding Nasolacrimal Duct Anatomy and Function


The nasolacrimal duct is a slender tube that serves as the primary drainage pathway for tears from the eyes to the nasal cavity. It begins at the lacrimal puncta, small openings located at the inner corners of the eyes, and extends through the lacrimal sac before emptying into the nasal cavity.


The nasolacrimal duct plays a crucial role in maintaining ocular health by facilitating the drainage of tears, which contain essential nutrients, antibodies, and lubricants. Proper tear drainage ensures the removal of debris, pathogens, and excess fluid from the ocular surface, preventing ocular irritation and infection.

Indications for Nasolacrimal Duct Evaluation


Epiphora, or excessive tearing, is a common clinical sign indicating impaired tear drainage. Nasolacrimal duct evaluation is indicated in animals presenting with epiphora to identify the underlying cause and guide appropriate treatment.

Ocular Discharge

Abnormal ocular discharge, such as mucopurulent or serous discharge, may result from nasolacrimal duct obstruction or dysfunction. Evaluation of the nasolacrimal duct helps determine the origin of the discharge and inform treatment decisions.

Methods of Nasolacrimal Duct Evaluation

Fluorescein Dye Test

The fluorescein dye test involves instilling a fluorescent dye into the conjunctival sac and observing its transit through the nasolacrimal duct. Delayed or absent dye appearance in the nasal cavity suggests nasolacrimal duct obstruction or stenosis.

Dacryocystorhinography (DCR)

Dacryocystorhinography is a radiographic imaging technique used to visualize the nasolacrimal duct and identify abnormalities such as strictures, calculi, or neoplasms. Contrast agents are introduced into the lacrimal system, and X-ray or computed tomography (CT) imaging is performed to assess duct patency and anatomy.

Clinical Significance and Implications

Diagnosis of Nasolacrimal Duct Disorders

Nasolacrimal duct evaluation is instrumental in diagnosing a variety of conditions affecting tear drainage, including nasolacrimal duct obstruction, stenosis, dacryocystitis (inflammation of the lacrimal sac), and congenital abnormalities.

Treatment Planning

Accurate assessment of nasolacrimal duct function guides treatment decisions, which may include medical management (e.g., topical medications, lacrimal flushing) or surgical intervention (e.g., dacryocystorhinostomy, nasolacrimal duct probing).


Nasolacrimal duct evaluation is a valuable diagnostic tool in veterinary ophthalmology, essential for diagnosing and managing conditions affecting tear drainage in animals. By understanding the anatomy, function, indications, methods, clinical significance, and implications of nasolacrimal duct evaluation, veterinarians can effectively diagnose and treat nasolacrimal duct disorders, ultimately improving ocular health and quality of life for their patients.

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