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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Opthamology & Optometry > Blocked Tear Duct Treatment

Blocked Tear Duct Treatment Cost

How Much Does Blocked Tear Duct Treatment Cost?

average costWith Health Insurance: Copays or 10%-50% Coinsurancehigh costWithout Health Insurance: $3,000-$6,000+
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A blocked tear duct stops the tears that lubricate the eye from draining into the nose and can cause watery eyes. The condition is common in newborn babies who often improve without treatment, but it also can happen in adults due to aging, eye infection, injury or another health problem.

Typical costs:

  • For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of doctor visit copays, prescription drug copays or coinsurance of 10%-50%. Treatment for a blocked tear duct typically is covered by insurance.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, an initial doctor visit to diagnose a blocked tear duct can cost from about $50 to almost $250 or more. Treatment can cost nothing for warm compresses and at-home massage. If there is an infection, it can cost $17-$170 or more for oral or topical antibiotics. It can cost $100 or more for dilation and irrigation of the tear duct in a doctor's office, but a similar procedure done in a hospital can cost almost $3,000 or more. And surgery to create a new tear duct using a shunt can cost up to $6,000 or more.
  • For example, at Lakewood Family Eye Care[1] in Florida an eye exam for a medical problem starts at $55 for an established patient, or costs $74-$119 for a new patient. Macy Eye Center[2] in California charges $240 for an initial exam, after a 40% discount for uninsured patients.
  • charges about $25 for a tube of generic prescription erythromycin eye ointment. charges about $17 for a bottle of the generic oral antibiotic cephalexin and about $175 for the brand-name equivalent, Keflex. It charges about $120 a bottle of the oral antibiotic Augmentin[3] .
  • Lakewood Family Eye Care[4] in Florida charges $105 to dilate and irrigate the tear duct to remove blockage. Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center[5] in Nebraska charges about $2,700, not including the doctor fee, to probe and possibly irrigate the tear ducts.
  • Baptist Memorial Health Care in Tennessee charges about $5,700, not including doctor fee, for surgery to create a tear sac drain using a shunt. Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children[6] in Hawaii charges about $6,000 for surgery for a blocked tear duct, but will reduce the amount to $3,600 for uninsured patients who pay in full within 30 days or $4,200 in 90 days.
Related articles: Dry Eye Treatment, Cataract Surgery, Glaucoma Treatment, Macular Degeneration Treatment, Eye Exam

What should be included:
  • For infants with a congenital blocked tear duct, the doctor typically will recommend warm compresses and gentle at-home massage of the tear duct. The problem usually resolves in a few months.
  • For adults with a blocked tear duct, treatment typically depends on the cause. If it the cause is an injury to the face, the problem might resolve after a few months without treatment. If there is an underlying eye infection, the doctor typically will prescribe antibiotic drops or ointment or, for a tear sac infection[7] , oral antibiotics.
  • For infants with blockage that does not go away, or in adults with narrowed ducts due to aging, inflammation or scarring -- the doctor might use local anesthesia and special instruments to dilate and irrigate the tear duct.
  • In some cases, outpatient surgery[8] is required. The patient is placed under local or general anesthesia and the surgeon then makes an incision and inserts a stent for drainage. Recovery takes about a week and, after several months, the doctor might remove the stent.
  • The Mayo Clinic has an overview[9] of blocked tear duct treatment.
Additional costs:
  • After surgery, patients typically need to use a nasal decongestant and antibiotic-corticosteroid eye drops, which can cost about $30-$120, for a few weeks.
  • Shriners Hospitals for Children[10] offer free specialized treatment for patients up to 18 years old based solely on need for services, not on family income.
  • Many hospitals and doctors give discounts of up to 30% or more to uninsured/cash-paying patients. For example, Washington Hospital Healthcare System[11] in California offers a 35% discount.
Shopping for blocked tear duct treatment:
  • The American Academy of Ophthalmology provides an ophthalmologist locator[12] .
  • If surgery is required, it typically would be performed by an ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeon, a board-certified ophthalmologist who has completed a fellowship in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery. The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery offers a surgeon locator[13] .
  • Sutter Health offers a decision-making guide[14] for parents of babies with blocked tear ducts.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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