Newborn Goopy Eyes: What Is It and What Can You Do?
Do you see a white or yellowish discharge from your baby’s eyes that lead to crusting? It is an example of newborn goopy eyes. Learn how the condition occurs and what you can do.
Because babies are so small and look fragile, any health problem can drive a parent into a panic. A number of them, though, are prevalent. One of these is the newborn goopy eyes.
What Is It?
Some babies as early as a few weeks old tend to wake up with a crusty yellowish or whitish matter sticking on their eyelashes. Sometimes they accumulate a lot the infant may have a hard time opening his or her eyes.
Parents usually describe this problem as goopy. In medical parlance, it could indicate the baby has a blocked tear duct. But how does it happen?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t produce tears only when you’re upset or sad. Rather, your eyes create them regularly. They prevent your eyes from drying, which can make them prone to infection. When they drain each time you blink, they can also bring with them debris and micro matter. In other words, tears moisten, lubricate, and clean the eyes, keeping them healthy.
The eyes produce tears through the tear glands (also called lacrimal glands) found above the eyeball continuously. The eyes, therefore, should be able to remove the old ones. The process begins when the tears flow from a pair of holes close to the nose called the lower and upper puncta. Then they move toward the lacrimal sac before they reach the nasolacrimal duct (tear duct). Lastly, they drain behind the nasal cavity.
With goopy eyes among newborn, the problem lies in the size of their tear ducts: they’re small. Not only are they narrow, but mucus can also obstruct them. Because tears don’t have anywhere to go, they overflow around the lashes and then mix with the debris and mucus, leaving crustiness.
Is It Time to Worry?
Goopy eyes don’t happen to all babies, but they’re common and usual. Over time, as your child grows, the tear ducts will also mature and open wider. Thus, the tears will flow more correctly. Furthermore, infants are less likely to cry often and more loudly by the time they’re six months old. This behavior will also reduce the likelihood of clogged tear ducts and tear overflow.
In many cases, the problem will clear on its own, and it won’t harm the baby’s eyes, especially your child’s vision. However, if it worsens or continues even after your child has turned one year old, you may want to see a pediatric ophthalmologist. It’s possible the issue is already congenital. There may also be an eye trauma or injury that prevents the ducts from draining well.
You should also seek an appointment with your pediatrician if other symptoms appear along with the goopy eyes. When eye swelling and redness accompany the discharge, the baby may already have an infection. Note that the accumulation of crust may also increase the risk of infection.
Some parents may mistake the blocked tear ducts as hay fever due to excessive tearing. The latter, though, also causes blocked or running nose, difficulty in breathing, sneezing, and sometimes the appearance of hives or eczema.
What Can You Do?
The pediatrician’s treatment plan depends on the actual eye problem. If there are already signs of infection, the physician may prescribe an antibiotic eye drop. If he or she suspects hay fever, you may have to deal with an allergist.
If blocked tear ducts are causing the goopy eyes, usually, the doctors don’t provide any medication. What you can do is to keep the eyes as clean as often as possible. You can grab a cotton ball, Q-tip, or a clean fabric like a face towel or a shirt. Dab it on clean water then remove the crusts building up on the lashes. Don’t forget to clean the surrounding areas of the eyes. You may have to do this at least five times or more, depending on the amount or frequency of the discharge.
A lot of mothers also swear by their breast milk as a form of treatment. Although there’s no strong evidence to point out its effectiveness, it is also known as liquid gold. It is rich in nutrients that help improve the baby’s immunity. In fact, colostrum, which is the first fluid you breasts produce, is packed with immune boosters that help avoid eye conditions.
If you want to use your breast milk, you would need a dropper. Place your milk in a glass and then squeeze enough for around three drops. You can do this a few times per day.
You can also massage the tear ducts, which are just in the corner of the eyes. If they are clogged or full, you can feel a slight bulge there. You can use your forefinger and middle finger to massage the ducts gently.
It’s always best to heed to the side of caution. For your peace of mind, see your doctor if you notice newborn goopy eyes. Know, though, your baby is just going be just fine.