Symptoms: Baby's eyes are bloodshot, tired looking, and teary. Her lids are swollen with lots of goopy discharge.
The Cause: A virus or bacteria. If baby has a viral infection, wait three to five days before sending her back to school -- but just 24 hours if her infection is bacterial.
Treatment: Clean each affected eye with a warm, wet cloth; then apply a cold compress. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotic eyedrops for bacterial infections.
Blocked Tear Duct
Symptoms: Lots of discharge that "glues" eyes shut and eyelashes together.
The Cause: As baby develops in utero, the tissue inside the tear duct sloughs off and leaves a hollow core. If that doesn't happen, the tissue remains and blocks the duct.
Treatment: Use a warm, wet cloth to clean the eyes whenever you see discharge. A blocked duct usually opens on its own, and discharge lessens over time. If it hasn't completely dissipated by the time your child is 12 to 18 months, she may need surgery.
Symptoms: A pimple-like bump on the top or bottom eyelid that can be red and tender.
The Cause: A bacterial infection of the eyelid's glands.
Treatment: Apply a warm compress to the eyelid a few times daily. If the bump is large or very swollen, baby may need antibiotic drops or ointment.
Source: Duke University eye expert Sharon Freedman, MD
Originally published in the November 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.
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