Get Adobe Flash player

HomeSite MapSubject IndexFeedbackBuy The Book!  

Eye ProblemsBack Next
Part 4 as Part 4 in pdf formatpdf
Part 4: Keeping Your Child Healthy  >  The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses  >  Eye Problems



A transitory squint in newborn babies is common and does not need any treatment. Children with a fold of skin between the eye and nose (epicanthic fold) or with a wide bridge of the nose and increased distance between the two pupils may falsely appear to have a squint. However, a true squint must be attended to immediately or it may lead to permanent blindness. An eye specialist should be consulted and his advice followed. Sometimes, the child just needs glasses. At times, a squint may follow a serious head injury or a tumour of the eye. Sometimes, surgical correction may be required.

Refractive Errors Needing Glasses 
Every child should be subjected to an eye check-up before joining school to ascertain if he has a squint or needs glasses.

Infections Of The Eye 
Watering of the eye in a newborn without sticky eyes or puslike discharge from the eye is usually due to blockage of the tear duct connecting the eye to the nose. This is not due to any infection and generally stops spontaneously before the child is 6 months old. If you notice a pus-like discharge from the eye, your doctor will teach you how to massage the area between the eye and the nose and advise some eye drops to be put after cleaning the eye with warm water. If watering persists after 6 months, an eye specialist should be seen. He may submit the child to a minor procedure to open the tear duct. This is quite effective. 

Redness of the eye or sticky discharge from the eye could be due to a bacterial or viral infection. If the redness is coupled with severe itching in the eye, the cause could be an allergy. Do not use an antibiotic or cortisone eye drops without consulting your doctor. 

In a newborn with conjunctivitis, you can safely instil a drop or two of breast milk into the eye, 4 to 5 times a day. It does help in some cases. If you are in a place where no doctor is available, you may use an antibiotic eye ointment for conjunctivitis, but make sure that it does not contain any corticosteroid. If not indicated, medicines containing cortisone can be harmful. In persistent cases, your doctor may send an eye swab to the laboratory to ascertain the causative organisms and prescribe an antibiotic by mouth.

In rare cases, tuberculosis can manifest in the eye as ‘phlyctenular conjunctivitis’. In this condition, a pimple-like spot is seen on the outer side of the cornea. Thin blood vessels are seen radiating from this spot. Further investigations are needed to confirm this.

If conjunctivitis suddenly starts affecting a large number of people in the community, it is mostly due to a virus infection of the eye. It is highly infectious and may be prevented by immediate hand washing after touching a patient and by keeping separate hand towels. Antibiotics are of no use because of the viral origin. If the redness persists, see a doctor who may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or an ointment if required. The antibiotic should only be put in the affected eye every hour or two while the child is awake. This is advised because the medicine is quickly washed out with the watering of the eye. Unaffected members of the family should not use the medicine.

Eye Injuries
The commonest injury to the eye is caused by a small foreign body like a grain of sand getting stuck to the conjunctiva covering the white of the eye, or the lids. Wash the eyes with plenty of water. If it does not come out, take a wick made from cotton, moisten it and clean the speck from the conjunctiva. If you cannot see it and the eye is irritated and watering profusely, the speck may be stuck under the upper lid. To turn this lid up, ask the child to look down. Put a matchstick (or use the finger of one hand) over the lid. Catch the eyelashes of the upper lid with your thumb and index finger and quickly turn the lid up over the stick. The foreign substance is generally seen on the upper lid below the eyelashes. Remove it with moist cotton or the comer of a clean piece of cloth.

If some chemical has gone into the eye, keep washing the eye with water till you see a doctor. 

If the eye has been punched and the child cannot see (ignore the transitory loss of vision after an injury), see the doctor as soon as possible. If the child’s vision is not affected, put an eye ointment into the eye, ask the child to gently close the eye and put a thick pack of gauze on it and keep it in place with leucoplast or a bandage till you see your doctor.

If the foreign substance is over the cornea (the cornea covers the pupil and the coloured portion of the eye called the iris), do not try to remove it yourself. Let the doctor handle it. 

Problems Of The Eyelids

A boil-like painful swelling near the eyelid is due to a stye (hordeolum). There may be more than one stye. Hot water fomentation thrice a day with application of an antibiotic eye ointment after the fomentation clears the infection. The use of an ointment must be continued for another 3 or 4 days even after the stye subsides.

A stye should be differentiated from a chalazion that results in a firm, non-painful swelling in the lid. It can disappear on its own, but may also require simple surgery. 

Sometimes, the margin of the eyelid presents with persistent itchy scales that stick together during sleep. The eyelid should be gently cleaned with warm water and the scales removed. Then apply an antibiotic eye ointment. This condition, called blephritis, tends to recur. Occasionally, local application of corticosteroids is needed.

Congenital Ptosis

This condition refers to drooping of the upper eyelid, and could be familial. It needs surgical correction. Mild ptosis is operated upon before the child joins regular school. Ptosis that interferes with vision should be corrected earlier as per the advice of an eye specialist.

Night Blindness

Inability to see properly in the dark may be the first indication of Vitamin A deficiency. It is easily cured by a diet rich in Vitamin A and the use of Vitamin A. If ignored, it can lead to severe damage to the eye and permanent blindness. Prevention is possible by breastfeeding the baby (preferably for 2 years) and giving him dark green leafy vegetables and red or yellow fruits and vegetables. Some of these children may also have associated roundworm infestation that should be treated as well.

7 March, 2016

Part 4
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses

Abdominal Pain
Abrasions or Scratches
Acute Glomerulonephritis
Acute Nephritis
Acute Watery Diarrhoea
Anorexia (Poor Appetite)
Bed-Wetting (Enuresis)
Birth Deformities
Bites and Stings
Bone, Joint and Muscle Injuries
Bowlegs and Knock-Knees
Calcium Deficiency
Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Cleft Lip and Palate
Common Cold
Congenital Heart Disease
Convulsions or Fits or Seizures
Dengue Fever
Diabetes Mellitus
Diarrhoea, Dysentery ...
Down's Syndrome
Earache, Ear Infections ...
Electric Shock
Eye Problems
Foot Problems
German Measles (Rubella)
Glands in the Neck ...
Head Injury
Influenza (Flu)
Joint Disorders
Limp and Pain in the Legs
Malnutrition (Undernutrition)
Menstrual Problems
Mental Retardation (MR)
Mouth To Mouth Breathing
Nephrotic Syndrome
Nose-Related Problems
Premature Baby
Prolapse of the Rectum
Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Short Child
Skin Conditions
Sleep and Sleep Problems
Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)
Stridor (Noisy Breathing)
Teething and Care of Teeth
Tetanus (Lock Jaw)
Tracheoesophageal Fistula
Tropical Eosinophilia
Tuberculosis (TB)
Umbilical Problems
Undescended Testis
Urinary Infection
Vaginal Discharge
Whooping Cough (Pertusis)

Part 4
Keeping Your Child Healthy
Choosing A Paediatrician
Proper Use of Medicines
Home Remedies
A First Aid Kit
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses
Psychological Concerns
Managing A Hospital Stay
Prayer And Your Child's Health
The Role of Nature Cure
Ayurveda and Child Care
Congenital Heart Disease FAQ
Guide to Child Care
1 Pregnancy, Childbirth ...
2 The Growing Years
3 Feeding Infants, ...
4 Keeping Your Child Healthy
5 Keeping Your Child Happy
About Dr. R. K. Anand

Home Site Map Subject Index Feedback Buy The Book!    top of page 

© Dr. R. K. Anand