Eye Discharge in the Newborn
By Springfield Pediatrics
September 16, 2012
Category: Newborn
Tags: Eye drainage   Eye discharge  

 Image from www.umm.edu via Google 9/15/12 for education.

 

Tears are produced by the tear gland. They are made to keep the eye moist and contribute in protecting the outer lining of the eye called the conjunctiva. The tear film also has some antibodies and help reinforce one of the body's first line of defense against germs.

Overflow tearing (medically known as Dacrocystenosis) is condition commonly seen in newborns and is usually accompanied with mucus formation in one or both eyes. This happens when there’s a blockage along the path of the duct between the nose and eye as shown in the image. This duct is designed by nature to drain excessive tears from the eye into the nose and the back of the throat. This is why we can sniff tears even when we cry!

Poor drainage here lets the tears get backed-up and some of it forms a thin film of mucus along the eyelid as a result. This condition does not involve other signs of eye infection or disease, such as redness or cloudy appearance - always check with your physician when eye concerns arise. This condition as described above is a self-limiting condition and is seen in as many as 6% of newborns. The blocked tear ducts open spontaneously within the first six to 12 months of life. Complicated cases happen ocassionally and these require a specialist evaluation by an ophthalmologist. Your Doctor may recommend the adjunctive maneuver below to improve symptoms:

Tear duct massage: applying gentle pressure with the little-finger, along with clipped nails, and clean hands on the area between the side of nasal bridge and the inner corner of the affected eye(s). This pressure is applied in and down over the location of the lacrimal sac as shown in the above diagram for about 5 seconds is expected to make the lacrimal sac transmit the pressure downstream and dislodge the obstruction along the tear duct. This should be done with every diaper change, a gradual improvement in symptoms is usually noted.

 

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