Blocked tear ducts are unsightly, but–you can breathe now–they’re common, and rarely a cause for concern. Here’s what to do if your bubs gets one.
Blocked tear ducts affect around 20 percent of babies–born with one or both ducts afflicted. The blockage is readily noticeable because the eye will be watery, and seep white or yellow discharge at around two weeks post birth, which usually crusts and seals the eye shut while baby sleeps. If the yellow discharge increases in volume, or turns green, infection has set in.
In an unobstructed eye, tears should drain into the nasal area via small ducts inside the corners of the eyes. The ducts are covered by a membrane, and it should break open soon after birth; if it doesn’t, tear fluid will back up in the eye, causing irritation and potentially infection.
If your baby’s eye is leaking small amounts of white or yellow discharge, do a gentle, upward undereye massage with your fingertips regularly throughout the day to help pop the membrane. You’ll also need to keep the eye area clean of discharge; wet clean a cotton ball in lukewarm water and softly wipe from inside corner outwards (use a new cotton ball for every wipe to avoid introducing bacteria).
A few drops of antibacterial and antimicrobial breastmilk into the eye can also help keep infection at bay.
If you suspect infection (the discharge will be significant and yellow or green in colour), contact your doctor. He may prescribe drops or ointment to help clear the condition.
Sometime a duct will remain clogged after 6 months of age. In this case, your doc may advise a simple outpatient surgery to clear it–or wait until baby turns one.