Parenting Health

Eye Discharge(Blocked Tear Ducts) - Causes, When Does It Stop & Ways to Cure

0 to 1 years

Created by Preeti
Updated on Nov 27, 2019

Eye DischargeBlocked Tear Ducts Causes When Does It Stop Ways to Cure
Reviewed by Expert panel

Eye discharge is one of those first few issues, a newborn may face after birth. It can be unsettling for a first-time parent to deal with eye discharge in their newborns. It is very difficult to see the newborn baby in any kind of discomfort and one of the most common ailments found in a newborn baby is discharge from eyes. [Read Eye Infections Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention Tips for Your Babies]

Eye discharge can resolve on its own, within 4-6 months after the birth, but there are cases when this eye discharge doesn’t stop on its own and one needs to seek medical treatment. Do we really understand the reasons behind these discharges in newborns? Perhaps, very few first-time parents do. I have explained all you need to know about eye discharge in babies. 

Eye Discharge in Babies & Causes

it will help you understand if eye discharge is normal in newborns, by when eye discharge should stop, how to cure blocked tear duct at home, how to massage blocked tear ducts at home, when medical attention is required in blocked tear ducts, what is nasolacrimal duct probing, what are the other causes of discharge and  at what point do you need to see a Doctor.

Causes of Eye Discharge?

Eye discharge in newborns can also be a sign of pink-eye or conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can lead to the white part of the eye to turn red. Red-irritated eyes, puffy, red tender eyelids or the discharge between 1-14th day of birth are the sign of conjunctivitis.

Is Eye Discharge Normal in Newborns?

Eye discharge is very common in newborn babies and it’s only rarely, that it could be a cause for concern for a parent. The most commonly occurring eye discharge in newborns is due to the blocked tear ducts. Tear ducts are tubes where tears flow away from the eyes. Your pediatrician may refer to this condition as dacryostenosis or nasolacrimal duct obstruction.

If the tear ducts are blocked, tear fluid may not be able to drain away from the surface of the eyes and these blockages cause watery eyes, sticky discharge from the corner of newborn eyes. According to the American Academy of ophthalmology, 20% of newborn babies are born with blocked tear ducts and this could be in both eyes or in a single eye.

When Does Eye Discharge Stops?

If the discharge in the newborn’s eye is due to blocked tear ducts then it gets resolved by 4-6 months on their own without any kind of medical treatment.

How to Cure Blocked Tear Ducts at home?

You can clear away the discharge by following these steps - 

  1. Wash your hands properly and take a soft clean cotton cloth and dip this cotton cloth in lukewarm water, 

  2. Apply the wet cloth gently to wipe the corner of the baby’s eye and clear the discharge. While doing so ensure that water doesn’t get inside the baby’s eye through the wet cloth.

  3. If the discharge is in both the eyes, ensure that you are wiping the other eye from the other, unused part of the cloth.

Your pediatrician may advise you to gently massage the blocked tear duct which can help the tear duct to open. Please remember that this massage technique would be demonstrated to you by your doctor, and the doctor only, so that this can be followed by you safely at home. 

How & How Many Times to Massage Newborn’s Blocked Tear Duct?

It is advised to massage your newborn’s blocked tear duct only after taking a proper demonstration from your pediatrician. You can massage twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Also, you should stop massaging immediately if you see newborn is at discomfort, the side of nose getting red or swollen and consult your pediatrician.

When Do You Need Medical Attention?

If the tear ducts have not opened on its own by 1 year of baby’s age, it needs medical treatment. Your doctor may advise a way forward accordingly in such a case. 

What is Nasolacrimal Duct Probing?

Nasolacrimal duct probing is a medical treatment. In this treatment process, a small probe is inserted in the baby’s tear duct to open a blocked tear duct and then a saline drop is used to flush out any kind of remaining debris. Before carrying out this process, the Doctor may give anesthetic eye drops to the baby. 

When to Visit a Doctor?

You should see a doctor( pediatric ophthalmologist) if you see the following symptoms in your baby’s eyes.

  1. Thick sticky yellow or green pus or discharge

  2. Red, sore, or puffy eyes

  3. Swollen eyelids

  4. Swelling in the corner of the eye

If you see any of the above symptoms, it is advised to seek a doctor’s help immediately. 

Points to Remember:

The following are the points that every new parent needs to remember & cautious. Read below

  • Not to worry when you see your newborn with eye discharge, this will resolve on its own within 4-6 months after the birth.

  •  Try to massage at home, once the Doctor demonstrates. This will help in opening the blocked tear duct. Do it only after taking the proper demonstration from the doctor.

  • Consult your doctor if the tear ducts remain blocked after the 6th month.

  • It is advisable to always wash your hands and use a clean cotton cloth to wipe the discharge from the newborn's eyes.

  • You need to see a doctor immediately if you notice thick, sticky, yellow discharge, red or puffy eyes, swollen eyelids or swelling the corner of the eye. 


I hope this blog will help you to understand the reasons for eye discharge in newborns and how to tackle it. Please ask your queries, if any and I shall be happy to answer it in the comments section.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Nov 27, 2019

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