Infections of the Lacrimal System

  • Khalid F. Tabbara
Part of the Essentials in Ophthalmology book series (ESSENTIALS)


The lacrimal apparatus consists of the major and minor lacrimal glands and the nasolacrimal drainage system. The minor (accessory) lacrimal glands include the glands of Krause and Wölfring. The mucinous layer of tears is secreted by the conjunctival goblet cells and the oily secretions are produced by the meibomian glands. Infectious dacryoadenitis is caused by primary endogenous infection and rarely by organisms ascending through the ductules. Causes of infectious dacryoadenitis include viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

Canaliculitis is a condition characterized by infection of the upper or lower canaliculus. The causes of canaliculitis include bacteria, fungi, viruses and Chlamydia. The most common cause of canaliculitis is Actinomyces israelii. Dacryocystitis is infection of the nasolacrimal sac and is usually caused by obstruction of the nasolacrimal duct. It is the most common infection of the lacrimal apparatus. The causes of acute dacryocystitis include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Hemophilus infuenzae, Staphyloccocus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Proteus species. Mycobacterium tuberculosis and fungal infections are rare causes of infections of the lacrimal sac. Chlamydia trachomatis may cause dacryocystitis leading to mucosal fibrosis and obstruction of the nasolacrimal duct.

Appropriate therapy may prevent complications of infections of the lacrimal system.


Herpes Zoster Lacrimal Gland Nasolacrimal Duct Meibomian Gland Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyThe Eye Center and The Eye Foundation for Research in OphthalmologyRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Department of OphthalmologyCollege of Medicine, King Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.The Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute of The Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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