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Blocked Tear Duct Vs Pink Eye: Are They Different?

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When it comes to eye discomfort, it is difficult to identify the exact cause, especially if the conditions have similar symptoms.

Blocked tear duct and pink eye (Conjunctivitis) are the two conditions that can cause eye discomfort. 

These eye issues appear similar but have different symptoms, causes, and treatments.

This article comprehensively compares blocked tear duct vs pink eye to enhance your understanding of the two conditions.

Pink Eye Vs Blocked Tear Duct: The Basics

Pink eye, or Conjunctivitis, is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which causes the eye’s white area to appear red. The conjunctiva is a transparent membrane that covers the eye’s surface.

On the other hand, a blocked tear duct occurs when the drainage tubes in the eye are partially or completely blocked. 

The medical term for blocked tear ducts is Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction.

This eye condition is common in newborns, occurring in approximately 5 to 20% of newborns. 

Pink eyes and blocked tear ducts can cause redness in the eye and irritation in the eye.

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  • Differences: Blocked Tear Duct Vs Pink Eye

    This section will discuss the differences between blocked tear ducts and pink eye. Though these two conditions appear to have similar symptoms, certain symptoms differ between them,

    The conditions can also be differentiated based on causes and treatments. Let us delve deeper to get a comprehensive understanding of the differences. 


    bacteriaSource: pixelshot
    Bacteria under microscope

    The causes of pink eye can include bacteria, allergens, and viruses. Of these causes, the most common is virus, followed by bacteria.

    Pink eye caused by bacteria or viruses is highly contagious and can spread through direct contact.

    Blocked tear ducts are either congenital, i.e., a person is born with them, or acquired. 

    A person’s tear ducts may get blocked due to injury, age-related changes, or infections. Pink eye infection can also cause blocked tear ducts.

    Did You Know?
    In rare cases, long-term use of certain medicines like Glaucoma eyedrops can cause a blocked tear duct.

    Want to know more about what kind of bacteria, virus or allergen causes pink eye? Read The Science Behind Pink Eye Causes: Viruses, Allergies, and More.


    Common symptoms of pink eye are redness, irritation, burning sensation, tearing, and watery or thick eye discharge.

    Symptoms like redness and discharge also indicate blocked tear ducts. However, blocked tear ducts can also cause excessive tearing, watering, blurred vision, and crusting of the eyes.

    Do you know that there are various types of eye discharge, such as green eye discharge, white eye discharge, and yellow eye discharge?

    However, the discharge during pink eye might vary. If you want to learn about pink eye discharge, read Everything You Need to Know About Pink Eye Discharge.

    In rare cases, symptoms of pink eye may also include blurred vision. Blurry vision may indicate a more severe infection.


    BimatoprostSource: Devonyu
    Eye drop bottle

    The pink eye generally does not require treatment and clears up within 1 to weeks. But, a person may need treatment if the infection is serious.

    Treatment of pink eye usually depends on the cause, i.e., virus, bacteria, or allergen. Pink eye caused by 

    • Bacteria is treated with antibiotics like Ciproflaxin in the form of eyedrops or ointments.
    • Virus is treated with eyedrops like artificial tears that can relieve viral pink eye symptoms
    • Allergens is treated with antihistamine eyedrops like Ocurest

    You should note that there is no treatment for viral pink eye infection. However, various pink eye medications and eyedrops can relieve the symptoms.

    Blocked tear ducts in infants do not require treatment in 90% of the cases. In the first year of life, this condition is often treated on its own as the babies’ tear ducts develop.

    For adults, medical practitioners recommend waiting a few months to see if the condition clears up on its own.

    But while you wait, massaging the tear duct 2-3 times a day and cleaning the eye with water can help.

    Sometimes, a blocked tear duct can cause an eye infection, for which doctors generally recommend antibiotic eyedrops.

    Surgical intervention may be necessary if the condition does not improve within a reasonable timeframe.

    Key Differences

    BasisPink EyeBlocked Tear Duct
    DefinitionInflammation of the conjunctiva that covers the eye’s white area causing the eye to appear redIt is a complete or partial blockage of tear ducts.
    CausesContact with a virus, bacteria, or an allergenCongenital i.e., from birth, or acquired due to injury or infection
    SymptomsRedness, burning sensation, watery or thick discharge Irritation, redness, watery discharge, excessive tearing, blurry vision
    TreatmentBacterial pink eye– Antibiotic eyedropsAllergic pink eye- Antihistamine eyedropsViral pink eye- artificial tears or other medicines to relieve symptomsMostly clears up on its own.Massage near the tear duct area to help it open up, use Antibiotics if there is an infection.Consider surgical methods if others prove ineffective

    Summing Up

    Blocked tear duct and pink eye are two conditions that can cause redness and irritation in the eye. People often confuse the two conditions as they have very similar symptoms.

    However, the two conditions can be distinguished based on causes, symptoms, and treatments.

    The causes of pink eye can be viral, bacterial, or allergic. While blocked tear ducts can be congenital or acquired through infection or injury.

    Symptoms like discharge, redness, and irritation are common in both conditions. But blocked tear ducts can also cause excessive tearing, blurring of vision, and crusting of the eyes

    Doctors generally recommend waiting for both conditions to clear up on their own. 

    They may prescribe antibiotics or antihistamine eyedrops if the pink eye infection does not go away within 1 to 2 weeks.

    On the other hand, a person may wait 1 to 2 months for blocked tear ducts to clear up. While they wait, they can massage the area near the tear ducts to speed up the healing process.

    The healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotic eyedrops to treat any infection caused due to blocked tear ducts.

    Surgical interventions are considered when medicines and massaging prove ineffective for blocked tear ducts.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can blocked Tear Duct and Pink Eye occur simultaneously?

    Yes, though rare, it is possible to have pink eye and blocked tear ducts simultaneously. 
    If you suspect this, consult an eye specialist for an accurate diagnosis.

    Are there any preventive measures to avoid Pink Eye or Blocked Tear Ducts?

    Yes, preventive measures like maintaining good eye hygiene, avoiding sharing eye makeup and towels, and practicing proper handwashing can reduce the risk of Pink Eye. 
    Blocked Tear Ducts, often congenital, are less preventable.

    Can adults develop congenital Blocked Tear Ducts?

    No, congenital Blocked Tear Ducts are present at birth and typically occur in infants. However, adults can develop acquired Blocked Tear Ducts due to various factors.

    Are there any complications associated with untreated Blocked Tear Ducts?

    Yes, untreated blocked Tear Ducts can lead to recurring eye infections, excessive tearing, and discomfort. In severe cases, it may impact vision.

    Can I wear contact lenses with a Blocked Tear Duct?

    Yes, you can wear contact lenses with blocked tear ducts. However, wearing dirty lenses can cause infections or worsen the condition.
    Consult an eyecare specialist for personalized advice.

    Cheap Medicine Shop only refers to credible, authoritative sources for our content. If you’re curious about how we ensure the integrity of our content, we encourage you to read our Content Information Policy.

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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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