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If eye discharge persists for a few weeks, it may indicate clogged tear ducts. Babies are tiny, and so are their tear ducts. These little inlets, located at the lower inner corner of the eyes, are designed to reabsorb and recycle tears, but their small size predisposes them to obstruction. Such a blockage results in excessive tearing of the eyes and the intermittent formation of crust from inflammation. Blocked tear ducts aren’t serious, but their symptoms can resemble those of an eye infection. The main difference is the severity: An infection produces much more prominent redness, discharge, and swelling than blocked ducts do.
You can treat clogged ducts by wiping off the crust with a warm compress whenever there’s too much accumulation. Keep in mind that the crust does not bother Lucy. Massaging the tear ducts by rubbing the corners of the eyes won’t open the ducts, and Lucy will hate it. The tearing and discharge at times can become intense, but this is still an inflammation, not an infection. As a result, antibiotic drops are rarely warranted and can even irritate the eye further. Some folks suggest applying breast milk to the eyes, but I think you should save it for better uses.
Most cases of obstructed tear ducts wax and wane over the first few months and disappear soon thereafter. If the condition persists to the end of the first year, it may require a simple surgical procedure to widen the ducts.
Persistent tearing could be either an allergic irritation of the eye or clogged ducts persisting from infancy. Allergic conjunctivitis affects older children and is usually a seasonal response to pollen allergens. The eye tears constantly, and the child may also experience associated crusting, nasal congestion, and even rash. Rubbing an itchy eye may cause redness and swelling. Unfortunately, treatment options are limited. The non-steroid anti-inflammatory drops are not that efficient. Steroid drops should be used only in severe and stubborn cases. As with most allergies, it’s often preferable to learn to live with mild symptoms than to risk the medicine’s side effects.
Clogged Tear Ducts
According to the textbooks, clogged tear ducts that persist beyond the first birthday with prominent discharge and tearing may require a simple surgical procedure to open the inlet. In my experience, however, even later cases still stand a good chance of resolving on their own in the second year of life.