Eye Infections in Babies: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention Tips
Created by Dr Shipra Mathur Updated on May 04, 2021
As the season changes, we see a rise in eye infections. They are common in children and spread easily amongst them and from one eye to the other. Some children seem more prone to eye infections and may have recurrent episodes.
It would be useful to know more about what causes these infections, how to keep your child comfortable during this time and what you can do to avoid them. [Read - 0-1 Old Babies Eye Vision Growth Milestones]
Types of Eye Infections
Depending on which part is affected, there may be:
Conjunctivitis - Infection of the covering of the white part of the eye and the inside lining of eyelids (the conjunctiva)
Eyelid Infections - Style, seen as a bump on the eyelid, occurs essentially due to clogging of the eyelid glands.
Infection of the skin all around and outside the eye- does not affect the eye itself or vision
Keratitis - may be caused by a scratch by a foreign object on the cornea that leads to an infection
Retinitis or inner eye problems
Causes Of Eye Infections
Eye infections may be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi that can invade the surface or inside of the eye.
Most Common Eye Infection in Children
The most common eye infection in children is conjunctivitis that causes a ‘pink eye’ and is caused by viruses that are the same as those that cause upper respiratory infections and colds. The herpes virus causes a rare but serious form of pink eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis is also quite common in children.
However, not all pink eye is due to infection. It may also be caused by allergies (pollen, animal dander, dust mites) and irritants (chemicals, smoke).
Eye Infection Symptoms
Redness and itching
Discharge from the eyes. In viral conjunctivitis, the discharge is usually watery or mucous-like whereas in bacterial infections it may be thick white, yellow, or green in color.
Discomfort. It may feel like there is sand in the eye.
Crusting over of the eyelid, lashes may be stuck in mornings
Photosensitivity (aversion to bright light)
Redness or small red lines in the white of the eye
Constant involuntary blinking
Treatment Of Conjunctivitis In Babies
Viral conjunctivitis usually improves in a few days without treatment. For bacterial infections, antibiotic eye drops or ointment are given. The treatment will usually last about one week. Any pus should be wiped away with a clean, damp cloth or cotton ball before the medication is put into the eye.
Treatment Of Pink Eye In Babies
Pinkeye usually goes away without any complications. In rare cases, the infection may spread to the cornea which causes more pain, extreme light sensitivity, and difficulty seeing. Stye requires frequent warm compression to speed up its bursting and healing.
How To Prevent Eye Infections?
Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria is extremely contagious and is easily spread when children rub their eyes, so encourage your child to not to do so.
Frequent hand washing is very important -- for your child, you, and for any caregiver. The chance of passing the infection lowers once the child has been treated with antibiotic drops or ointment for 48 hours.
Sharing of towels, pillow cases, clothes should always be avoided to prevent spread of eye infection among family members.