Baby Eyes and its care

        Every parent naturally desires that his/her baby should be healthy, chubby and intelligent. To enjoy good fruits one has to plan and work hard. For planning, both the parents must have sound knowledge about the normal baby and infant care in general. This article provides useful information on baby eyes and its care.

Baby Eyes

1. Should we routinely instil eye drops in baby eyes


        During delivery, baby eyes can get contaminated with germs present in the mother’s vagina, particularly if the vagina is inflamed by germs like those of gonorrhoea. Hence routinely penicillin eye drops are used in many maternity homes. However if the mother’s vagina is not infected, no special care for the baby eyes is necessary.

        However, if baby eyes are congested and eye lids get stuck up owing to sticky discharge, eye drops containing anti-bacterial drugs should be instilled frequently and an eye ointment applied at night. Eyes should be cleaned with a cotton swab moistened with normal saline or sterile water when sticky discharge is present.

2. Why tears do not appear even when a newborn baby cries vigorously ?

        The tear glands start secreting tears in an adequate amount only after 2 or 3 months after birth. In newborn babies tear secretion is just enough to keep the eyes moist. Even when the baby is in agony the tear secretion is not increased and hence tears are not seen trickling down the cheeks in the first 2 or 3 months.

3. Why are tears seen trickling intermittently down

the cheeks of some older infants even when they are not crying ?

        The tear glands are situated in the outer parts of the upper eyelids and their secretion i.e. tears keep the eyeballs moist and clean. A major portion of the tears is carried from eyes to the nose through special ducts known as nasolacrimal ducts. In some babies these ducts are not well developed and hence the tears expected to flow down the ducts, flow down the cheeks intermittently.

        In a majority of the case these ducts open by themselves by the age of 6 months to 1 year and no treatment is necessary. A gentle massage along the inner angle of the eyes to the nose is helpful. If the flow of tears does not stop by one year of age, dilation of the nasolacrimal duct by passing a probe is done by an eye specialist. In severe cold, these ducts get blocked because of congestion of the nose. Hence watering of the eyes is commonly seen in severe cold even in adults. Watering of the eyes is also seen in conjunctivitis i.e. sore eyes.

4. Is instillation of breast milk useful in congested baby eyes ?

        Traditionally breast milk is used as eye drops for congested eyes. Breast milk contains antibodies against many viruses and about 2000 white blood cells per ml. Hence it is worthwhile trying breast milk as eye drops along with other medicines and eye drops. No scientific investigation has been done on this subject until now.

Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text ‘Your baby (Birth to 1 year)’.