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Baby eyes

Many babies develop a mild redness of the eyes a few days after birth. This is probably caused by an immature tear duct that may be partially obstructed. It doesn’t require any treatment, as it usually clears up by itself

Baby eyes blocked tear duct – Another kind of very mild but chronic infection of the eyelids occurs in the early months in quite number of babies, most commonly in only one eye. The eye waters and tears excessively, particularly in windy weather. White matter collects in the corner of the eye and along the edges of the lids.

This discharge may keep the lids of baby eyes stuck together when the baby wakes up. This condition is caused by an obstructed tear duct. The tear duct leads from a small opening at the inner corner of the eye lid, first toward the nose, then down the side of the eye socket and into the nose cavity.

When this duct is partly plugged, the tears from baby eyes cant drain off as fast as they form. They well up in the eye and run down the cheek. The lids keep getting mildly infected because the eye is not being cleansed well by the tears. The usual treatment is a combination of prescription eye ointment or drops and gently massage of the tear ducts of baby eyes to open them up. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will show you how to do this.

Blocked tear ducts of baby eyes are fairly common and not serious, and they do not injure the eye. The condition may last for many months. The tendency is outgrown in most cases, even if nothing is done. If after year it is still bothersome, an eye doctor can clear the duct with a simple procedure.

When the lids of baby eyes are stuck together, you can soften the crust and open them by gently applying water with your clean fingers or a clean washcloth and warm water (not hot, because the eyelid skin is very sensitive to temperature). A plugged tear duct does not cause redness of the white of the eye.

Conjunctivitis in baby eyes – This bacterial or viral infection of the lining of the white of the eye causes the white of the eyes to look bloodshot or pink. Usually there is discharge of yellow or white pus from the eye. The doctor or nurse practitioner should be called promptly.

Crossed baby eyes – It is common for a baby’s eyes to turn in or out too much at moments in the early months, in most cases they become steady and straight as the child grows older, usually by three months. If, however the eyes turn in or out all the time of much of the time, even in the first month, or if they are not steady by three months, an eye doctor should be consulted.

Many times parents think their baby’s eyes are crossed when they are really straight. This is because the skin between the baby eyes (over the bridge of the nose) is relatively wider in a baby than in an older person. This extra skin covers a little of the white of the eye (toward the nose), causing it to appear to be much smaller than the white on the outer side (toward the ear).

It is also not uncommon in a newborn baby for the lid of one eye to droop a little lower than the other or for one eye to look smaller. In most cases, these differences become less and less noticeable as the baby grows older. The baby’s eyes should be examined, though, to be sure that they are straight.

Another reason for the baby eyes sometimes appear crossed is that when they are looking at something in their hands, they have to converge (cross) the eyes a lot to focus on it since babies’ arms are so short. They only converging their eyes normally, as adults do to a lesser extent. Their eyes won’t get stuck in that position.

Parents often ask whether it is safe to hang toys over the crib, since the baby sometimes becomes cross-eyed when looking at them. Don’t hang a toy right on top of a baby’s nose, but it’s perfectly all right to hang it a foot away or more.

It is important that infant’s eyes be examined promptly if there is a question about whether they are straight, because an eye that is always crossed will gradually become completely useless if efforts are not begun early to make the child use it. When the two baby eyes do not coordinate and converge on an object, each eye will see a somewhat different scene; the child sees double.

This is so confusing and uncomfortable that the brain automatically learns to ignore and suppress the vision of one eye. Over the first couple of years, the brain loses the capacity to process visual information from the suppressed baby eyes, and the eye will for all intents and purposes be blind. If this goes on too long, it becomes impossible to bring back the vision in that eye. This condition is known as lazy eye.

The eye doctor’s job is to promptly put the lazy back to work, usually by having the child wear a patch over the good eye for long periods of time. The eye doctor may also prescribe glasses to further encourage the coordinated use of both baby eyes. Then comes the decision as to whether there should be an operation. Occasionally, several operations have to be performed before the result is satisfactory.

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