A newborn baby’s eye ducts do not work for the first four to six weeks of age. They are unable to drain away with tears, so any dirt particles that may get into the eye can result in a sticky eye. The eye may ooze yellow/green looking puss that can be so bad the eyelashes can stick together as it dries. It’s tempting to wipe the eyes frequently but this will only make the condition worse by irritating the eye. It may look unsightly but rarely bothers a baby.
Here’s what to do…… Clean twice a day maximum, morning and evening with cooled boiled water and cotton wool. Use a separate piece of cotton wool for each eye. Soak the cotton wool in the sterile water and gently wipe and flush the eye with water from the inside out, repeat as necessary with a fresh piece of soaked cotton wool.
If you are breast feeding you can drop or squirt breast milk into the eyes. It usually works best just before latching baby on whilst breast feeding. Let the milk drop through the eye and again don’t be tempted to wipe the excess away. You can do this as many times as you like and is very effective in curing the problem if treated early. Don’t be tempted to wipe once milk runs through, it will only aggravate the eye.
For some babies the problem can last for weeks, in which case see your GP for eye drops.