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Blocked tear ducts in newborns - watery eye problem in babies


What is a blocked tear duct?

Usually your pediatrician explains you that plugged tear ducts mean that your baby eye cannot properly drain tears. This problem occurs in most cases just in one eye, but not always. In some cases it can occur in both eyes as well. When the tear duct which goes from the infant eye to the nose becomes clogged, it prevents your baby's tears from flowing correctly.

Symptoms for a blocked tear duct

The affected baby’s eye/eyes become watery almost all the time. Your newborn will have tears mainly from one eye whether s/he cries or not. In addition, when your child do cry the tears won’t flow evenly, usually the unaffected eye will secret less tears compare to affected one. In addition, parents might notice that the nose of their baby is dry, but not runny as it normally happens with common crying. You might also see some yellow or brown sticky things in the corner of the eye or all over the affected eye. It is especially noticeable after your newborn just woke up after the night sleep or nap. Your baby may even have difficulty to open the eye because of these sticky things.

What to do about the plugged tear ducts

The blocked tear ducts usually occurs shortly after your labor and can last for few days, weeks, or even months. In most cases that is completely normal that should go away by self. Therefore, mainly only time can cure this medical condition. Typically, your doctor might say that the only treatments necessary for a blocked tear duct are massages and cleaning the eye area.

Parents normally press with fingers very gently the inner corner of the eye and move down the nose too. However, pediatricians’ opinions differ on how to do the massage. Some pediatricians might not recommend you to do that at all referring that it won’t do much of a good anyway. Therefore, in order to help the blocked tear duct to open you need to just gently keep cleaning the eye area with different clean or cooled boiled tissues and be patient.

How to clean the blocked tear ducts in infants

There are lots of different ways on how to clean plugged tear ducts. Some parents were recommended by their doctors to drop breast milk (if you have it) in the corner of baby’s eye/eyes, because it works almost like antibiotic, but doesn’t need any prescription. According to other home remedies it is possible to clean the eye with cooled tea and even tissues should be boiled in the tea as well. On the other hand, many health care providers say that it doesn’t make any difference whether to clean the eye area with cooled boil water, tea, mother’s milk, or just try to take the sticky stuff out with well washed hands. Everything can work as long as you are able to clean the babies eye area safely.

On the other hand, parents should definitely show the child to doctors and maybe seek for second pediatrician opinion in order to prevent from developing some other potential eye problems or complications.

If blocked tear ducts won’t go away by selves after 10-12 months of child’s life then your pediatrician might refer you to show your baby to the ophthalmologist. The small and relatively simple surgery might be needed in order to open the plugged tear ducts up.

Medical Disclaimer

The author is not a doctor and the information in the article is general in nature with no medical advises given or imply. Talk to your doctor, nurse or medical advisor how to treat health related problems.