Epiphora or having watery eyes is a common condition in babies and fortunately, it is harmless. It could be caused because of blocked tear ducts, infections, or allergies.
Eyes keep on watering (or secreting tears) constantly or in excess amounts. Occasionally, you might see tears running down his face as well. This condition could have been triggered by an allergic reaction, infections, or blocked tear ducts.
They might also have a discharge from their eye. You might hear these symptoms called ‘watering eyes’ and ‘sticky eyes.’
Epiphora is not that serious and it passes on its own. Sometimes, it can also indicate numerous medical conditions. Here are a few of the most common reasons for watery eyes in babies:
Overproduction of Tears
Eye irritation is often responsible for the secretion of excessive tears from the eyes in order to wash the irritant out. Eye irritants include smoke, dust, pollen, dirt, sand, and so on. Also, conditions like conjunctivitis, trichiasis, and ectropion can irritate your baby’s eyes. Ensure that your baby does not rub his eyes too much as this could worsen the inflammation and lead to a burning sensation.
Infections such as pink eye can also lead to epiphora in infants. It can be caused by viruses, fungi, bacteria or even allergies. Pink eye occurs when a virus (or bacteria, though less common) gets into the eye. This condition is extremely contagious and can spread to others in your family if precautions are not taken. Another infection is blepharitis, which results due to blockage of the sebum glands under the eyes. These infections can lead to severe symptoms such as swelling, burning, soreness, and loss of eyelashes in extreme cases.
Blocked Tear Ducts
Your baby may also have watery eyes because of a blocked tear duct. The tear ducts are responsible for draining the fluid from the eyes so that they do not accumulate. However, if your baby’s tear ducts are blocked, the drainage system may malfunction, causing the tears to collect in your baby’s eyes and slowly stream down his face. You might also observe white discharge, redness, or swelling on the upper corners of your child’s nose.
Your baby may also have watery or red eyes because of allergic conjunctivitis. Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, can also cause an allergic reaction in the eye, which may make his eyes water. Some symptoms of allergic rhinitis include runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, etc. Watch out for these symptoms and take your child to a doctor immediately.
- Clean your baby’s eyes with cotton and filtered water to prevent the accumulation of any discharge as it could lead to infections.
- Massage the tear duct a few times a day using mild pressure; it will help release any clogging, allowing the duct to develop fully. This method is known as milking.
- Using antibiotic eye medications can also help relieve the symptoms that might be caused due to infections.
- Use eye drops containing antihistamines to combat the symptoms of allergic reactions.
- Wash your baby’s eyes out under the guidance of a paediatric ophthalmologist to remove any irritants.
- If a virus causes watery eyes, you might have to wait for around a week to see if it goes away. If it does not, please consult your child’s paediatrician immediately.
When should I see a doctor?
- Inflammation or redness in or around the eyes.
- The yellowish-green secretion forms hard crusts around the eyes.
- Your infant continually rubs his eyes or shows discomfort.
- Your baby is sensitive to light and prefers to keep his eyes closed.
- The shape of your baby’s eyelids is not how it is supposed to be.