The tear ducts take excess tears away from the eye, to the nose. This is why your nose “runs” if your eye is watery.
In infants, the naso-lacrimal duct is very narrow and blocks up easily. Sometimes it does not open up properly during its development.
This results in a watery, sticky eye.
In babies, massaging of the lacrimal sac and canaliculi can open the passage to the nose, thus preventing any further surgery. Your ophthalmologist will show you how to do this.
Sometimes the duct must be opened with a fine probe and washed out. This is done with a short anaesthetic (10min) and involves no surgery, no cutting, and no stiches, and is effective in 90% of cases. If this is unsuccessful, surgery might be necessary, for example insertion of Crawford tubes or dacryo-cystorhinostomy.