Does your Child have Sticky Eye?

Whenever your baby looks or is unwell, you equally feel unwell, and uneasy. One of the conditions you may notice is the sticky eye. This may get you worried and concerned, especially when your baby shows yellow discharge from the eyes. Let’s take a look at the condition, its causes, symptoms, prevention and how to clean your baby’s eyes in the event that they have a sticky eye.

What is Sticky Eye?

A sticky eye is a condition where the eye shows signs of inflammation, and produces a yellow sticky discharge. 

This condition occurs in babies born with very narrow or blocked tear ducts, and as a result, their tears cannot drain away from their eyes, resulting in wet eyes and a sticky discharge. 

Below are signs of sticky eye:

  • Yellow or white discharge at the corner of your baby’s eyes (The discharge may have a flaky or crusty appearance, especially after sleep)
  • Inflammation or mild redness around or below the eye.
  • The baby’s eyes become very watery, which is due to excessive tearing of their tear ducts.
  • The color of the discharge may also turn green over time.

Treatment for Infant Sticky Eye.

Sticky eye generally clears up on its own, however, on check- up, your pediatrician may prescribe: 

  • Eye drops or ointment.
  • In case the blocked tear ducts do not unclog, your baby’s pediatrician may teach you a special kind of massage that helps ease the blockage. 
  • In severe unresponsive cases, the specialist may recommend surgery, with a general anaesthetic. This surgical procedure entails the surgeon opening your baby’s tear ducts with a probe, in a bid to expand or create them.
  • Also, to help ease your baby’s discomfort, hold a clean, warm and not hot washcloth over their closed eyelids for a period of two to five minutes.
  • Cold compress. This provides moisture to their eyes, as well as makes it easier to dissolve the dried flaky discharge, and also makes it possible for the baby to open their eyes after they wake up.
  • Breast milk. While this is anecdotal, lots of experienced mothers use breast milk to wipe off the sticky discharge from the eye, and cure eye infections.

Many Kenyan mothers swear by breast milk as a better and safer option to prescribed medicine. This is actually true because breast milk contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Cleaning Your Baby’s Eyes

If your baby has sticky eye, it is imperative that you keep their eyes clean at all times. For this you will need:

  • A sterile gauze cotton swab, which is locally available at your nearest pharmacy.
  • Diluted saline solution (one teaspoon of salt in 500 ml of boiled water, which has cooled off).

Once you have all these items, clean your baby’s affected eye using the following process:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Pat dry your baby’s affected eye(s) with a clean or disposable cotton towel.
  • Using a cotton swab soaked in a weak saline solution, gently wipe away any discharge on your baby’s eyelids.
  • While you clean, ensure that you do not touch your baby’s eye or even clean the inside of their eyelids as you may end up causing their eyes irreparable damage.
  • Wash your hands clean once you are done.


Please note that development differs from one child to another. 

Content intended for educational purposes only, and not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.

Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed March 2019

Sources: pregnancybirthbaby, parenting.firstcry, kidspot

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