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Illnesses & Symptoms

Eye Drainage - Newborn and Infants

A common problem in babies is a clogged tear duct in one or both eyes. Tears are made in the upper eyelid and drain into the nose through a duct on the lower eyelid. A blocked tear duct causes the eye to appear to water excessively. Sometimes a thick, yellow drainage occurs. Unless the white of the eyeball looks red, this is not pink eye.

Treatment for a blocked tear duct is massaging the area over the duct with clean hands. Firmly rub the area between the lower eye and the nose. The area will be red when you are finished if you rubbed hard enough. Use a wet cotton ball or clean cloth to wipe any goo out of the baby's eye. Babies fuss with treatments, but it does not hurt them at all. Repeat this process 3-4 times daily until all symptoms are gone for a few days. You may notice that when the baby gets a cold, symptoms return. This is because the tear duct swells again along with other mucus membrane swelling. Simply massage the area again.

This problem commonly lasts up to 9 months of age. If it persists at 9 months, we refer to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) to have the tear ducts probed.

If the white of the eye is red, an appointment should be made to evaluate for infection, scratch on the eye, or other concerns.

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Illnesses & Symptoms