If the white part and lower rim of your baby's eyes are red, chances are they have pinkeye (conjunctivitis). As your baby's system tries to fight the infection, their eyes may tear or become goopy or crusty.
Here are 3 main causes:
A virus: If your baby has cold symptoms, the infection is most likely viral. Viruses are the most common cause of conjunctivitis.
Bacteria: If your baby's eyes are producing a thick yellow discharge, or their eyelids are swollen or stuck together, bacteria are probably to blame.
Blocked tear ducts: About 20% of babies are born with one or both of their tear ducts blocked or partially blocked. The blockage can lead to pinkeye-like symptoms, such as white or yellow discharge, or full-blown conjunctivitis.
How is pinkeye treated?
Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, so it usually clears up on its own in a week or so. Your Optometrist will advise you to use a warm compress and keep the area clean by gently washing your baby's eyes with warm water to rub away discharge. If your baby's eyes haven't improved after two weeks, go back and see the Optometrist.
If your Optometrist believes that bacteria are the culprit, they will prescribe antibiotic ointment or drops for you to use on your baby's eyes for about seven days. You may find the ointment easier to apply than drops.
Many Optometrists will also recommend putting a few drops of expressed breast milk (if you're breastfeeding) in the affected eyes several times per day to help clear any discharge, treat an early infection, or even prevent an infection.
Watch out, it’s contagious!
Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are both extremely contagious. To keep the infection from spreading, wash your hands every time you finish caring for your baby's eyes. Keep your baby's towels, clothing, and bedding separate from everyone else's, and wash them regularly.
Can my baby go to daycare with pinkeye?
You'll have to check your daycare center's policy to find out whether your baby can attend while having symptoms. Although it’s not always necessary to exclude a baby from daycare with pinkeye, most Optometrists will recommend staying home for at least 1-2 full days after treatment has started.
Blog post sponsored by Milton Optometry