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Derby Eye Surgery
 
Sticky Eye

What is it?

A persistently watering that is often associated with green mucous collecting in the corner of the eye. After sleeping this mucous can dry, making the eye difficult to open. Both eyes can be affected. It is more common in small babies and tends to resolve in the first year of life.

What causes it?

Tears are continuously produced from a gland above the eye. They flow across the eye’s surface keeping it clean and moist. The tears then drain into small ducts in the inner corner of each eyelid from where they join a larger duct system that drains the tears in the nose. In babies these ducts are very small and frequently cannot drain the tears away fast enough. As a result the eye waters, particularly when the baby has a cold, as the membranes in the nose swell causing further obstruction. In addition the normal mucous component of tears comes out of solution and appears as a green slime in the corner of the eye. It is not pus and does not mean there is an infection.

As the baby grows the ducts enlarge and function more effectively. In most cases the problem resolves. Until then the eye can be prone to minor infections (conjunctivitis) where it becomes red. This will not damage the eye and will respond to antibiotic drops. Drops are only required if the eye becomes red. The green mucous is not pus and for this alone antibiotics are not required.

Very occasionally one of the larger ducts (the lacrimal sac) becomes infected with the corner of the eye becoming severely inflamed (dacrocystitis). This is more serious and would require a doctor to see the baby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How is it treated?

Most cases will not require any treatment at all. The mucous is best cleaned away with warm water on a cotton wool ball. Gently massaging the inner corner of the eye may help to speed up resolution of the problem. Antibiotic drops are only required if the eye is actually red, not just for the mucous.

Most cases of sticky eye resolve in the first year. For this reason more aggressive treatment is avoided until the baby is a year old. If the sticky eye remains a problem one option is to pass a probe into the tear ducts and breakdown any residual obstructions (Probing). This is an operation and requires a general anaesthetic. Some experts will wait until the child is at least five years old before doing this. In Derby we treat babies with blocked tear ducts surgically only after they are a year old. If probing does not work a more complex procedure may be required where tubes are placed into the whole system and left there for several months. Fortunately this is rarely required.

Childrens eye problems

Blepharitis
/
Chalazion
/
Conjunctivitis
/
Lazy Eye
/
Refractive Errors
/
Squint
/
Sticky Eye

 

Derby Eye Surgery

Appointments. Tel. 0300 790 6190
NHS enquiries. Tel. 01332 787512
Secretary. Tel. 01332 510784
Email. rhoeyes@googlemail.com

 
 
 
 Roger Holden Eye Surgeon
 
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