Sticky eyes and conjunctivitis

Sticky eyes and eye care

Protect your baby’s eyes

‘Sticky eyes’ are common in newborn babies and young children while their tear ducts are developing. You may see some sticky stuff in the corner of the eyes or their eyelashes may be stuck together.

It normally clears up on its own, but you may have to clean your baby's eyes regularly with damp cotton wool. Use clean, cooled boiled water.

Wipe each eye from the corner by the nose outwards. Use a clean piece of cotton wool for each wipe. Remember to wash your hands before and afterwards and avoid sharing towels used by your baby to prevent spreading infection.

Eye tests and checks

It is important to look out for any signs of problems with your baby’s eyes. Routine eye tests are offered to newborn babies and children to identify any problems early on in their development. It's quite normal for the eyes of newborn babies to ‘cross’ occasionally, particularly when they're tired. However, speak to your GP or health visitor if you notice this happening to your child after three months of age. Left untreated, lazy eye can develop.

Although serious vision problems during childhood are rare, early testing ensures that any problems are picked up and managed as early as possible.

Conjunctivitis

The signs of ‘sticky eyes’ can sometimes be confused with an infection called ‘conjunctivitis’. With conjunctivitis the white of the eyes become red and there is more yellow or green sticky goo which comes back regularly. If you notice this and it continues for more than 24 hours, contact your health visitor or GP. This can be passed on easily, so wash your hands and use a separate towel for your baby.

Health visitor says

Sometimes the cause of watering eyes is a blocked tear duct, it may help if you massage the tear duct every few hours using gentle pressure on the outside of the nose, near the corner of the eye. If the tear duct continues to be blocked at twelve months of age, then consult your GP who may refer your child to an eye specialist.

See your pharmacist or GP if:

  • Their eye becomes inflamed, angry or red, there is yellow or green sticky crusty discharge around the eye that keeps on coming back.

  • Your baby rubs his/her eye a lot or seems in pain.

  • Your baby does not like to open their eyes, or light seems to hurt your baby’s eye.

  • You think your baby might have conjunctivitis.

  • The structure of the eyelid does not seem right.

For more information visit www.ihv.org.uk/families/top-tips

Source: iHV.org.uk 2016.

1

I notice that in photographs my baby only has one red eye.

2

This could sometimes indicate a problem.

3

Speak to your GP.