10th June 2020

Icky baby problems and how to solve them: eye gunk

Is your baby a sight for sore eyes?

What is eye gunk?

Well, we think you probably know what it is, or at least what it looks like. Most commonly, babies get gunky eyes, or sticky eyes, or eye discharge (you can call it Brian if you want, it’s still gross and annoying), due to blocked tear ducts. Particularly common in premature babies, but not all unusual in full term babies either, eye discharge with no signs of redness, is simply due to them being born without fully developed tear ducts, so it will sort itself out in time.

If eye gunk is accompanied by red eyes and the gunk is a bit yellow or particularly crusty, it’s more likely to be conjunctivitis, which is also very common in children in general. It’s more noticeable when they first wake up, and can spread to both eyes, as well as being contagious, as many crusty-eyed parents will testify.

What can I do about it?

For bog-standard eye gunk, it’s best to treat it at home, by gently wiping the affected eye(s) with cotton wool soaked in cooled boiled water. If you suspect a blocked tear duct, you can also very gently massage the corner of their eye near their nose.

If you think they’ve got conjunctivitis that doesn’t seem to be clearing up by itself or if they seem to be in pain, it’s best to see the GP as they can prescribe special eye drops.

Mainly, though, don’t worry: it might look icky, but it will clear up quickly and in the meantime you don’t need to stay away from polite society – just be mindful of other babies and avoid sharing towels and what-not.

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