Newborn Eyes Newborn Baby

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Can my baby see me?
Yes! While newborns do not have very good vision, they can see. Babies can typically
see about 12 – 18 inches in front of them and tend to prefer looking at faces or
contrasting colours.

When my newborn baby cries, I don’t see any tears. Is that
Yes. In the first few weeks of life your newborn may not cry with ‘real tears’. This is
perfectly normal. Your baby is making enough tears to keep his or her eyes moist.

My baby crosses his eyes every now and then, is that ok?
Yes. As newborns’ eye muscles and vision are not very strong, their eyes occasionally
turn in or out in the first few months of life. This is normal and typically resolves as their
gaze becomes steady and their muscles strengthen. However, if this has not resolved by
the time your child is 4 months old or if one eye is constantly turned in or out, you
should have your child examined by a doctor. It is important to identify and treat vision
problems promptly.

There is a sticky discharge from my baby’s eye, what should I do?
‘Sticky eyes’ are very common in the newborn period. While newborns don’t usually cry
with ‘real tears’, they do make tears to keep the eye moist. Normally, the tears coat the
eye and drain from a small opening (called a tear duct) at the inner corner of the eyelid
(by the nose). This tear duct can be blocked in infants. The tears have nowhere to drain
when this happens and instead run down the cheek. Sometimes this causes a mild
inflammation of the eye. The eye produces a white / yellow discharge which can cause
the eyelids to swell slightly and stick together. It is often most noticeable when the baby
first wakes up. This blocked tear duct does NOT cause inflammation (redness) of the
white part of the eye (conjunctiva). In most cases, treatment consists of simply keeping
the eye clean by wiping from the nose outward with a clean cotton wool dipped in cooled,
boiled water (or saline) several times per day. Your doctor or nurse may have you gently
massage the area just below the tear duct to help open it up. Blocked tear ducts are
very common, not serious and do not injure the eye. They usually resolve within a few
weeks or months. However, if the eye becomes swollen or the white of eye becomes
bloodshot or pink, your baby should be seen by a doctor or nurse.

       Conjunctivitis or ‘pink eye’ is caused by a bacterial or viral infection of the
       membrane that covers the white part of they eye. This causes the whites of the
       eyes to appear bloodshot or pink. Usually there is a white or yellow discharge,
       which can cause the eyelids to stick together and become swollen. If you think
       your baby has conjunctivitis, have him or her examined by a doctor or nurse. If
       they think your baby has an eye infection, they will take a swab of the eye and
       may prescribe your baby antibiotic drops (or ointment). They will also tell you
       how to clean your baby’s eye and may have you keep him or her out of day care
       (crèche) until it has resolved.


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