If you’ve ever had pinkeye or another ocular infection, you know how terrifying it can be to wake up without the ability to open your eyes. Many adults clearly remember the feeling of waking up in bed without the ability to see, calling out to their moms and finally finding relief in a warm washcloth. Infections cause the production of mucus to increase drastically, which during slumber causes the mucus to dry on the eyelids and seal the eyes shut. If you’re a new mom, you might have realized your baby has this mucus every night even without any type of infection.

Unfortunately, tear duct obstruction is common in infants. When your baby is born, much of his body will take time to adjust to life outside of the womb. His fluids are not regulated, and these irregularities could cause an increased production of tears. By the same token, your infant’s mucus could be caused by a more serious problem, so you should see a pediatrician no matter what. Luckily, tear duct abnormalities are usually benign.

Your baby might be tearing frequently as a result of a totally harmless abnormality in his or her tear duct. If this is the case, studies show that the abnormality usually goes away as your baby’s body grows and becomes more stable. All of his fluids will begin to solidify, and his tears will become less frequent. In this case, your care should be palliative.

When your infant wakes up with eyes that are sealed shut because of his or her increased tear production, you should be ready with a warm, moist wash cloth. Gently rub the crustiness away until your baby is able to open his or her eyes independently. Never pull the eyelids apart, because this could cause eyelashes to be pulled out, which is very painful for your baby. The warm moisture will cause the dried mucus to become liquefied again, which will give you the chance to wipe it away.

Eye mucus is extremely common in infants, but you should visit the pediatrician at the first sign of it. It’s probably just a temporary abnormality, but all eye problems are easier to cure if they are diagnosed early. Whatever the problem might be, make sure you are extremely gentle with your baby’s eyes. Any damage at all could be a problem for the rest of his or her life.

Source: Ashvini Reddy et al: Management of Pediatrics Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction: Surgery of the Eyelid, Lacrimal System and Orbit 2009

Keyword Tags: