Sticky eye is one of the most common ophthalmic problems in new born and babies. At least one out of every five newborns may suffer from sticky eyes. Their eyes become sticky and glued as a result of blocked tear duct. The condition is not serious and in majority of cases it can be treated at home.
The baby may have white or yellow discharge at the corner of eyes when the tear ducts are blocked. Sticky eyes can be unilateral or bilateral, meaning one or both the eyes can be affected.Tear duct is a tiny tube at the nasal corner of eye lid. Tear produced from lachrymal glands (tear glands) is normally seeped through this duct into the nasal cavity, from where it goes down into the throat. In other words it is outlet for tears. However, when the tear duct is blocked, tears flow out from eyes. With too much of tears the eyelids may become glued, especially when the baby wakes up after sleep.
What Causes Sticky Eyes In Newborns?
In many children and new born the tear duct is not completely developed.Few new born have blocked tear duct from the time they are born. The amniotic fluid or dead skin cells may block the ducts when they are born. The eye discharge may become sticky because of small amount of oily liquid produced by the tiny tear glands.
Since the tears do not flow into the blocked tear ducts, it remains on the eye surface. Thus when too much of tear collects in the eye, it may cause the eyelids to stick together. This is how the eyelids may stick to each other in children.
In some cases there may be infection in the birth canal that a child may have come in contact with during birth. In rare circumstances other abnormalities of eye can cause blocked tear duct.
Home Remedies For Baby Sticky Eye
Majority cases of sticky eyes in babies can be treated at home. It is not a serious disorder. Here, it needs to be mentioned that sticky eyes is not similar to conjunctivitis (pink eye). However, if it remains for a long period, it can certainly lead to infection.
Usually the problem itself heals on its own, once the tear duct develops to its normal. It happens within few weeks after the birth, but in some babies tear duct may take long time to develop.
- The best way is to clean the eyes with damp cotton ball dipped in saline or sterile water. Clean the eyes from inner to outer corner.
- Also massage the area near the junction of eye and nose with a cotton ball. Massage it daily eight to ten times to clear up the blockage. Do it in a gentle way and do not apply too much of pressure. Cut your finger nails before doing massage to prevent any injury to the eyes.
- You may have to consult an ophthalmologist under two circumstances, if you suspect the cause of sticky eyes due to an infection or the problem persists for more than one year. In case of sticky eyes resulting from an eye infection, an antibiotic eye drop may be required. If the problem persists for long, the ophthalmologist may recommend minor surgical procedure to clear the blockage.