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What Is the Lacrimal Gland?

Using eyedrops may keeps the eye lubricated.
Tears protect the cornea, preventing it from getting infected.
The lacrimal gland produces tears.
Lacrimal gland infection can lead to problems with the eyes due to a reduction in the amount of tears produced.
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  • Written By: Katriena Knights
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 December 2014
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The lacrimal gland is a gland that produces one of the components in tears. It is a lobed gland located on the outer side of each eye. These glands produce the aqueous portion of tears, consisting of liquid, salts, proteins and lysozyme. Tears are produced constantly to protect and lubricate the eye, but when additional tears are required to clean substances from the eye or when crying, the lacrimal gland produces the majority of these tears.

Major functions of tears include bringing oxygen and other necessary nutrients to the cornea, carrying waste products away from the cornea, preventing the cornea from becoming infected and maintaining the proper levels of saline on the cornea to protect the eye and preserve vision. If the cornea becomes too dry or too wet, eyesight can be affected, causing near- or farsightedness. These changes usually are situational and temporary, but long-term malfunction of the lacrimal gland can lead to chronic conditions such as dry eye.

Other problems with the lacrimal glands include inflammation, infection, or tumors developing in the glands. Swelling in these glands can occur as a side effect of other problems such as Epstein-Barr syndrome or mumps, or it can occur because of bacterial or viral infection. It usually temporary is, but chronic lacrimal inflammation can be a symptom of Sjogren's syndrome, sarcoidosis or other serious conditions.

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Lacrimal gland infection can lead to problems with the eyes because of reduction of tear production. Any swelling in the area of the eye should be brought to the attention of a doctor. Most infection in these glands can be treated with antibiotics and is a temporary condition, though it might be painful and inconvenient.

Another, rarer occurrence is a lacrimal gland tumor. These tumors can be benign or malignant, though a malignant tumor in this area is very rare. Tumors occur most commonly in older people, though they are found in teenage patients as well, at a slightly higher rate than in the general population. In some cases, the tumors are quite small, causing only a mild swelling in the outer eyelid. Other tumors cause severe drooping in the eyelid, sometimes even interfering with vision.

To prevent problems with the lacrimal gland, one should maintain proper eye hygiene and protect the eyes from foreign materials. A doctor or ophthalmologist should be consulted if there are any signs of swelling or discomfort along the outer edge of the eyelid. Using eyedrops can help keep the eye properly lubricated and moist in dry climates, and they help protect the eye and the lacrimal glands.

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anon309549
Post 5

What is the weight of lacrimal gland?

anon242127
Post 4

Could you please give me some information about lacrimal gland enlargement and its causes?

My CT scan result shows that the lacrimal glands are slightly prominent in both sides (especially the right side), but no bony scalloping or remodeling in lacrimal fossas and no heterogeneity in them.

All my thyroid test results are normal, except my TPO. My doctor told me that my lacrimal glands have become bigger. But he has no idea why.

I want to know, can crying too much cause this problem?

He gave me Prednisolone 50mg, very 12 hours. Thank you very much.

pharmchick78
Post 3

@earlyforest -- Sorry to hear about your eyes. First, to reassure you, it's unlikely that you have lacrimal gland cancer. However, to give you more information (knowledge is power, right), here's a little bit about lacrimal gland cancer.

First, there are four main types: benign mixed epithelial tumors, malignant mixed epithelial tumors, lymphomas, and adenoid cystic carcinomas.

Those are basically listed in order of seriousness, but don't take it as a harsh standard; all of them can be treated if caught early enough.

Benign tumors are obviously the best, but can still need to be removed if they are blocking the gland. The others are more serious, since they can spread to the other parts of the body and are often more difficult to treat. They can also be a sign of a more serious disease, like Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Chance-wise, about half of lacrimal tumors are benign and half are malignant, so it is worth getting your eyes checked out if for no other reason than to put your mind at ease.

However, chances are that you are more likely to simply have an infection or a cyst, both of which are annoying, yet treatable. See a doctor; stop messing around with WebMD; you'll just end up worrying yourself more.

Hope this helps.

EarlyForest
Post 2

Hello -- I was wondering if you could give me some information about lacrimal gland tumors. I recently have started getting what seems to be a fairly hard lump in my eye near my lacrimal gland, and I'm really afraid that it is lacrimal gland cancer.

Well, I don't know a whole lot about it, but after looking over some lacrimal gland histology pages it seems like that's what it could be. But then it could also be a cyst or a stye or whatever, but I'm just really paranoid that I've got cancer.

Could you give me some more information about this subject so I can stop trawling WebMD and freaking myself out?

closerfan12
Post 1

I think that lacrimal ducts are one of those things that most people don't think about until it stops working -- I know I used to be like that until I got a very small gland cyst that blocked my lacrimal gland.

I still have no idea what caused it, but good Lord, talk about pain! I just woke up one morning with my eye completely swollen shut, almost like a really bad stye, but with much more pain.

I got my husband to drive me to the pharmacy because at that point I still thought that it was just a bad stye, but they told me to go to the doctor, so I went. The doctor diagnosed me immediately with a lacrimal gland cyst, and I ended up having to go into surgery to get it removed the next week.

The whole thing was an excruciating, if enlightening experience -- and made me really aware of the design of my eyes, which is a plus, I think. Of course, if I could have gotten the knowledge without the terrible pain that would have been great too...

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