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At birth most babies tear ducts are not fully developed. As a result, during the initial two weeks of your newborn’s life, their eyes will be dry, even when they are crying.
Tears are produced in the lacrimal glands. The tears then flow over the eye and drain into the tear ducts which usually develop over a few weeks.
Approximately one in five babies are born with tear ducts that are not yet fully developed.
Your baby’s eyes are kept healthy by tears. As newborns don’t make tears, washing away debris and keeping their eyes moist can be difficult. As a result, parents or carers may need to help by wiping away any eye discharge.
Parents may need to help their baby or young child by wiping away any eye discharge.
According to Sydney Paediatrician, Dr Jonny Taitz, eye infections are common in newborns and young children.
“It’s quite frequent that little babies often have blocked tear ducts because they’re tear ducts are very small, they tend to block up , particularly in the first three-to-six months,” he says.
“And because the ducts are blocked, the eye has difficulty draining itself, so it becomes infected, which can lead to conjunctivitis. It’s a common problem for babies and I tend to see three a week or more.”
Does your baby have sticky eyes?
You may notice discharge forming in your newborn’s eyes, especially overnight. It may dry out and crust on your baby’s eyelids or lashes or make their eyelashes stick together.
Your baby’s ‘sticky eyes’ could be the result of a blocked tear duct.
“Most of the time the tear ducts will open by one years old but if a duct isn’t opened, we tend to recommend surgery – it’s rare condition that would affect less than 1 percent of one-year olds.”
What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is an irritation or inflammation of the conjunctiva, which covers the white part of the eyeball. It can be caused by allergies or a bacterial or viral infection.
Any newborn baby with conjunctivitis should see a doctor immediately to rule out infection, which can be very serious.
Conditions like conjunctivitis, blocked tear ducts and styes can leave your little one’s eyes looking red, swollen or crusty.
“If kids get conjunctivitis after one years old, it’s generally from someone passing it to them and before one years old, it’s typically due to a blocked tear duct,” explains Dr Taitz. “And that’s why Little Eyes is so helpful in that age group.”
When should a parent bring their baby or young child to the doctor?
When it comes to their baby’s eye health, Dr Taitz recommends parents seek medical advice at the first sign of a red eye.
“Get help early! You only have two eyes and eyesight is critical – if you see one red eye make sure you get to the doctor early and do not delay.”
He says parents should seek medical advice if:
Cleaning your baby’s eyes with a sterilised wipe
Sterilised eye wipes such as Little Eyes gently clean the delicate eye area and remove secretions and discharge from around the eyes.
“For any eye infection, eye blockage, crustiness Little Eye wipes are the go-to,” advises Dr Taitz.
Little Eyes can also be used as a warm or cold compress for soothing relief.
Little Eyes will not treat eye infections. They are designed to gently clean the delicate eye area and eyelashes to remove ocular secretions, scales, crusted matter and residue.
If your little one has an eye infection your healthcare professional may suggest an eye-care regimen including cleaning, warm compresses, eyelid massage and eye drops.
Eye infections are common in newborn babies and young children.
Expert tips to safely clean your baby’s eyes
Little Eyes advises following these steps for healthy and safe eye care.
For warm and cold compress:
How to give your baby a gentle eye lid massage
Please remember, do not use if the sachet is open, damaged or marked. Little Eyes wipes can be used as often as necessary and for as long as required.
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