Family Health Guide

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Eye Irritations: Treatment


Treatment differs for each type of pinkeye:

  • Bacterial -- Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or an antibiotic ointment which can be applied to the inside of the lower lid. Ointments and drops are equally effective, but drops tend to be easier to apply. These treatments should always be administered for the prescribed time period. Warm compresses can also be applied to the eyes. This will dilate the blood vessels and bring more white blood cells to the area to fight off infection.
  • Viral -- At this point in time, there is no effective medicinal treatment for viral pinkeye. It goes away on its own within a few days. Warm compresses can be applied to the eyes for viral pinkeye as well.
  • Allergic -- Allergic pinkeye can be treated with prescription allergy eye drops; but oral allergy medicines like Benadryl are not very effective because they don’t get to the surface tissues of the eye in sufficient concentrations. Cool compresses can ease itchiness and help rinse away some of the irritants/allergens.

Blocked Tear Duct

Babies born with blocked tear ducts usually do not need treatment. Most tear ducts will clear up on their own by your child’s first birthday. Home treatment measures to keep the eye clean -- like using clear water on a clean, soft cloth to gently wipe the yellow discharge out of your baby's eyes -- can help prevent infection. If signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or continued yellowish discharge appear, your doctor may prescribe an antibacterial ointment or drops or oral antibiotics.

If her ducts haven't opened and are still not draining normally by the time your baby is nine months to one year old, your doctor may refer you to a pediatric eye specialist for a procedure called tear-duct probing. A tiny wire-like blunt probe is inserted through the tear ducts from above to unclog the passages Most probings for NLD (nasolacrimal duct) obstruction nowadays are done under anesthesia, not in the office, since it is most proper to wait for spontaneous clearing of the obstruction to beyond about 8 months of age; since about 95% or more of the obstructions clear spontaneously before that point, doing early probings in the office on younger infants is mostly useless. Over 8 months of age, infants are usually too strong and uncooperative for an office probing to be done with ease, and trauma to the wall of the duct during a probing on a struggling child can result in scarring of the duct and a permanent obstruction..