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Epiphora (Latin name)

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Lacrimation with new borne children is often caused by the tear ducts not being fully developed thus leaving no passage between the lacrimal sac and the nasal cavity. A slimy liquid of tears accumulate in the lacrimal sac and forces its way up through the tear duct and rests in the corner of the eye looking like pus, however, as long as the eye itself is not red there is no infection. Therefore children are often unnecessarily treated with drops of antibiotics or ointment. The skin often becomes irritated and red because of tears and slime.

The passage to the nose often opens itself before the child turns one year old at the same times as the molars erupts. Until this happens, the treatment is cleaning of the area surrounding the eyes with salt water. Hereafter, the skin around the eyes is anointed with hydrophobic ointment, for example Vaseline.

Only if the eyeball itself has turned red, there is a need for treatment with drops of antibiotics or ointment because this is sign of actual infection. As long as the eye is pale and there is only slime it is not necessary with treatment and the child can attend day care or nursery.

If the problem has not disappeared when the child turns one, you should go to a hospital where they will try to open up the lacrimal sac through to the nose using a probe. This is done under brief anaesthesia.

Click here to read about how you evaluate your child

What can you do?

Rinse with saltwater and anoint the skin with Vaseline.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

A doctor will treat the child if there are sings of inflammation of the eye.

Contact the doctor immediately

A doctor will refer to an eye department on a hospital with reference to treatment, if it has not disappeared by the age of one.