Conjunctivitis aka Pinkeye

Conjunctivitis is an infection or inflammation of the membranes that cover the eye and eyelids. It is uncommon in the newborn period and should be examined by your pediatrician to establish the cause of infection. Sometimes newborns will have a blocked tear duct with discharge from the eye.

Conjunctivitis is common in childhood and is frequently referred to as “pinkeye.” Redness of the eye, the lids, with swelling and a discharge is usually seen. Often in bacterial infections, the eyelids will be matted and stuck together in the morning upon awakening.

These infections should be seen by your pediatrician and and are usually treated with antibiotic eye drops.. This is not an emergency but a condition that should be attended to promptly during office hours. If there is much swelling of the lids, redness, discharge and fever, the infection may have extended deeper into the surrounding tissues and should be seen as soon as possible. Many conditions, which look similar to bacterial infections of the eyes, are due to viral infections, allergies, foreign particles or other irritants (such as swimming pool water) and do not require antibiotics. 

Remember that in the newborn period, many babies will have a condition known as a blocked tear duct. This causes a clear drainage with a small amount of mucus, but little or no redness or swelling of the lids. This is caused by a blockage (usually temporary) of the baby’s tearduct and usually is relieved by gentle massage. Do this by placing your little finger on the side of the baby’s nose, near the angle of the eye and using a rocking motion with pressure, three times a day. Occasionally, an ophthalmologist will need to see your baby if the condition persists after 12 months of age.

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