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Q&A: Discharge from your baby's eye may mean an eye infection

Dr. Christine Wood, M.D


Q My one month old seems to have a lot of yellow discharge coming from her eyes. Is there anything I can do to reduce or stop this? Thanks for your help.

A This may be an eye infection that needs antibiotic eyedrops. Most pediatricians will treat with eyedrops in an infant with discharge from both eyes. If the eyedrops do not help with the discharge after 5 days, we usually stop the drops, and have parents do some massage of the tear duct (area below the eye next to the nose). The diagnosis when the eyedrops do not help is a plugged tear duct. It usually occurs in one eye, and you will notice intermittent eye discharge, especially after sleeping.

We give plugged tear ducts up to a year to open up. If the baby is still having eye discharge after a year of age, the odds of it opening up on its own are low. A pediatric ophthalmologist will then do surgery on the eye, to unblock the tear duct.

Christine Wood, MD

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Click here to Ask Dr. Christine Wood questions about your baby's health

Dr. Christine Wood is a practicing pediatrician in Southern California. She attended the University of Detroit for her undergraduate degree in chemistry and received her medical degree from the University of Michigan. She completed her pediatric residency at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. She was Chief Resident there and then worked in the emergency room at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. After three years doing pediatric emergency room medicine she went into private practice. She received her lactation educator certification from the University of California, San Diego.

She is the author of "How to Get Kids to Eat Great and Love It," a book that addresses the issues of why and how to feed kids healthy. The book also covers information about environmental threats and the role of nutritional supplementation for children. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.

Christine is also the cofounder of Call Your a website designed to give concerned parents with non-emergency medical questions, solid, no-nonsense information that can give them information in deciding when to call the doctor and some home treatment advice. You can visit her website at

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eve Jul 20, 2014 02:24:03 PM ET

My son has whitish discharge in his eye, and the eyes seems to be swollen and he cries a lot. What should I do?

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leah Apr 5, 2013 08:01:52 PM ET

My 4month old baby girl has this white stuff stringy thick gunk comeing out of her eye.. it doesn't seem to bother her and it only happens right after she wakes up.. but out of the same eye it seems pretty swollen.. puffy kind of its only happening out of one eye though. I was wondering if anyone knew what this could be I have a docters appt. But itit's a week away. If it gets any worse I'm just going to take her to the ER...

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marilou Dec 25, 2012 12:30:23 PM ET

My 8 mnth old just had diarrhea for about five days now followed by slimy discharge in both his eyes.what can i do about it

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Cathy Nov 8, 2012 01:19:47 AM ET

My 4 mos old baby girl has this yellow w/ water discharge since birth. her pediatrician advised her an eye drops for 3 days. but then, the discharge is still there but not as often when she was 1 month old. i notice the discharge occurs at daytime. i stopped giving her eyed drops, im afraid it may damage her eyes.

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chris Jul 28, 2010 03:46:03 AM ET

Wow thanks for the insight info very good

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