Sticky Eyes In New Born Babies: Symptoms, Reason and Treatment

Blocked ear duct or dacryostenosis or sticky eyes is a very common condition of the eye in newborn babies. I receive several questions about this problem every day. Parents get easily worried about eye problem in their babies.

The usual conditions in a newborn are pink eye, eye looking red, eye infection, white or yellow discharge from the eye or the baby has sticky eyes when the baby gets up in the morning.

These are the normal conditions which someone will associate to conjunctivitis or an eye infection but an eye specialist doesn’t normally associate it with conjunctivitis. They associate this condition to a blocked tear duct.

Blocked ear duct is a very common condition in newborn babies and there are normal ways to treat it. Even an eye specialist doesn’t recommend the medical ways to treat because this sometimes opens up naturally.

Symptoms of Sticky Eyes

  • Pink eye
  • Watery eye
  • The baby seems sensitive to light
  • They are constantly squeezing their eyes shut
  • Green, white or yellow discharge

Why sticky eye or blocked tear duct happen?

Tears in babies start to form about two to three weeks after they are born. The inner corner of the eye that drains to the nose is very often blocked. Babies can have either one or both of the tear duct can be blocked. If the tear duct is blocked it pushes the water back to the eye in which bacteria can start to develop and it can lead to infection.

In few babies tear ducts that are too narrow with the birth itself. Sometimes the tube can also get blocked by a plug of mucus or cells that developed before the baby was born.


Then infection can range from mild to major. It can be a normal pink eye or it can block the entire eye. It varies from babies to babies.

How to treat a sticky eye?

Cleaning the eyes
If your baby has a sticky eye, it is important to keep their eyes clean. You will need:

  • a gauze cotton swab, which you can buy from your chemist – do not use cotton wool balls because these can shed pieces of cotton into the eye
  • weak saline solution (1 teaspoon of salt in 500mL of boiling water which has been left to cool)

Wash the affected eye or eyes as needed, following the directions below:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Pat the eye dry with a clean (or disposable) towel.
  • Gently wipe away any discharge with a disposable cotton swab soaked in a weak saline solution.
  • Do not touch the eye itself or clean inside the eyelid because you may damage the eye.
  • Wash your hands again.

Surgical Treatment

If the condition does not go away past 1 year the doctor advised undergoing surgery to open the duct also known as tear duct probing surgery. Probing the tear duct opens the pathway for tears to flow through the tear drainage system. This will prevent constant watering and discharge from the baby’s eye.

Tear duct probing risks

  • Sore eye
  • Red-eye
  • Eye infection
  • Mild bleeding

You may also like...