My baby has sticky eyes. What should I do?
You may have noticed that your newborn’s eyes are very watery and occasionally causes stickiness and crusting. This is because your baby’s tear ducts (located near the nose) are still immature. While tears continue to wash over your baby’s eyes to keep them moist, the immature tear ducts have yet to fully open, thus not allowing the tears to drain away. Approximately 2 in 10 newborns have blocked tear ducts. The blockage may occur in one eye or both.
On some occasion, the fluid that accumulate in the baby’s eye may become infected and cause conjunctivitis. This condition refers to the inflammation of the eye.
Signs of conjunctivitis
Apart from sticky eyes, observe whether your newborn’s eyes are red, puffy and tender to the touch. The discharge will also be yellow and even bloody.
Causes of conjunctivitis
In the early days of life, conjunctivitis is most often caused by blocked tear ducts. Bacteria or viruses that are either from the environment or from the mother’s vagina can also cause conjunctivitis.
Risks of conjunctivitis
While some bacterial infections may only cause mild conjunctivitis, bacteria that causes gonorrhoea and chlamydia in the mother can lead to serious eye damage. This includes damage to the cornea, inflammation of the iris and even blindness.
Dealing with conjunctivitis
It is best to keep your baby’s eyes clean at all times. You may use cotton wool dipped in cooled, boiled water to periodically clean them. Your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic eye drop as treatment. If it is a blocked tear duct that is causing the infection, your doctor may recommend that you massage their tear ducts to encourage them to open. To prevent the occurrence of conjunctivitis in newborns, pregnant mums with sexually transmitted diseases should be treated before giving birth.