Eye infections affect people of all ages. This means that infants can be affected by eye infections too and even develop the first symptoms and signs immediately after birth. It is essential to recognize such infections and to consult a pediatrician as soon as possible because, if left untreated, the majority of eye infections in infants can cause permanent damage to the eye.
Infant Eye Infections
Many times the mother is suffering from certain sexually transmitted diseases and she does not have to be aware of this. Acute sexually transmitted diseases are a huge health threat, particularly for infants who undergo vaginal delivery. In such case the baby's eye come in contact with vaginal discharge which enters the eyes and eventually initiates infection.
This happens in case the mother is suffering from acute gonorrhea and chlamydia infection. An eye infection is also possible to occur if there is acute exacerbation of genital herpes infection. All in all, infection is generally associated with redness and swelling of the eyelids, plenty of discharge coming from the eye and changes in baby's behavior. Fortunately, with proper treatment (antibiotic or antiviral eye drops and ointments/creams) the infection can be eradicated and the child will have no long-term sequelae.Blocked Tear Duct
Tearing of the eye in infants is a consequence of blocked tear duct. Tears are normally produced by the lacrimal glands and they are distributed across the entire eye. After that they are collected in the inner corner of the eye and drained into the nasal cavity via the tear duct. However, under certain circumstances, the tear duct may be blocked and tears, instead of being drained into the nose, start to flow down the baby's face.
This medical condition may additionally cause eye infections. In fact, if obstruction does not withdraws within 6-12 months, the child may even end up with chronic infection. Fortunately, this does not happen often.
As far as treatment is concerned, blocked tear duct is easily treated and tear drainage is soon restored. Initial treatment comprises antibiotic eye drops as well as cortisone eye drops (anti-inflammatory eye drops). These are administered together with pressure over the tear sac. The pressure may efficiently rupture the tiny membrane in the duct which is, in the majority of cases, the cause of blockage.
Only in case the membrane does not rupture within some period of time, the baby undergoes a procedure called probing. It includes gentle insertion of a thin, blunt, metal wire through the tear drainage system.