Newborn: There are three minor problems with the eyes of newborn babies that parents should be aware of. The first is mildly swollen or irritated eyes appearing in the first few days of life which may be a reaction to antibiotic drops which are placed in the baby’s eyes at birth. The incidence of this problem has decreased due to a change in the medicine we now use. Usually, the swelling and irritation will resolve without treatment in a few days. If the swelling becomes marked, if the eyes drain a yellow or green discharge, or if the eyes themselves are red, then the child should have an office visit.
Infants may also have a blocked tear duct. Tear duct obstruction, also called nasolacrimal duct obstruction, in an infant or child causes the eyes to water excessively. The treatment for this is massaging the tear duct by squeezing the inside bridge of the nose between your thumb and index finger at the inner corner of the eye. Pressure should be applied in a gentle but firm way. This will help open the tear duct. You should discuss this problem at a routine office visit. If the child continues to have tearing problems after several months, we refer the child to an ophthalmologist for tear duct probing. This generally is done after 12 months of age. Sometimes with chronic obstruction, the nasolacrimal duct can become infected with pus coming from the tear duct. Should this happen, let us know. We may refer to the ophthalmologist sooner than 12 months.
Many young infants can have intermittent crossing of the eyes. This usually resolves spontaneously by six months of age. If it continues past this time, we refer the child to an ophthalmologist. If your child’s crossed eyes are not intermittent, make an appointment to see one of our doctors.
Pink Eye: Pink eye or conjunctivitis is a mild inflammation of the outer lining of the eye manifested by redness and discharge from the eye. It is most often due to an infection although there are other causes including irritation from dust and allergy. Sometimes, conjunctivitis can be associated with infections in other parts of the body, especially ear infections. Because pink eye has so many causes and is many times associated with other infections, it is difficult to evaluate this by telephone. If your child develops pink eye, you should make an appointment during regular office hours to have your child evaluated.
Eye Trauma: Trauma to the eye that results in significant pain that does not go away in a few minutes should be evaluated on an emergency basis.
Eye Pain: Any severe eye pain, even if it is not associated with trauma, should be evaluated on an emergency basis.