Does your baby wake up with his or her eyes crusted shut? Is yellow or even green goop constantly oozing from the corners? That's how it was for my oldest daughter, who suffered from a blocked tear duct for the entire first year of her life. Have you spent your child's infancy rubbing their eyes and worrying about the potential for surgery to unblock his or her tear duct? We did. Here's what you should know about managing your baby's blocked tear duct.
Rub tear duct with warm water and a cotton ball to remove crust or discharge.
My doctor taught us to rub my daughter's eye down and along the base of the nose with cotton ball that had been dabbed in warm water. The stroke starts in the corner of baby's eye, starts down the nose, and heads away from the nose, almost in a semi-circle.
In addition to the stroke itself, the temperature of the water is important—make sure it is warm, but not hot enough to hurt your baby. Use a cotton ball, instead of a towel or washcloth, so that you are certain that the item is sterile and to help prevent infection. Use some pressure when performing this motion, but not too much as to hurt your baby.
Work to unclog the duct by with circular rubbing.
In addition to rubbing the eye to remove any crust or discharge that occurs as a result of the blocked tear duct, take time to gently rub the corner of baby's eye in a circular motion several times a day. This will help free any obstructions that exist and prevent any infection or crust/discharge from occurring.
My daughter was initially frustrated when we did this, but her tear ducts only seemed to improve when we were consistent in our efforts. If you can find a time when baby is otherwise distracted or content, you may have more success while rubbing her tear ducts.
Watch for yellow or green discharge from the eye.
Waking up with a crusty eye is normal for an infant with a blocked tear duct, as in clear or some light yellow discharge. However, bright yellow or green discharge may indicate that your child's tear duct is infected. When my daughter's tear duct was infected, it was also slightly swollen and red in appearance (even when the discharge or crust was not present).
If you suspect an infection, schedule an office visit with your pediatrician. Your doctor will prescribe a cream to be applied to the eye until the infection has subsided. Use the cream in combination with the other methods described above in order to prevent a repeat infection and to help unblock the tear duct permanently.
Surgery may be considered after your baby is one year of age.
Most babies will outgrow a blocked tear duct by one year of age. If your baby is one year old and his or her tear duct is still blocked, you and your doctor may consider several options for treating the condition. According to WebMD, probing and intubation are just two of the popular surgical methods for treatment in an infant after one year of age.
If your doctor does feel that it's necessary to treat your baby's blocked tear duct with the surgical route, be sure to discuss the risks and benefits in depth before the procedure.
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