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Newborn conjunctivitis; Conjunctivitis of the newborn; Ophthalmia neonatorum; Herpetic neonatal conjunctivitis
Eye irritation that is caused by the eye drops given at birth should go away on its own.
For a blocked tear duct, gentle warm massage between the eye and nasal area may help. This is usually tried before starting antibiotics. If a blocked tear duct has not cleared up by the time the baby is 1 year old, surgery may be needed.
Antibiotics are usually needed for eye infections caused by bacteria. Eye drops and ointments may also be used. Salt water eye drops may be used to remove sticky yellow drainage.
Special antiviral eye drops or ointments are used for herpes infections of the eye.
Early diagnosis of infected mothers and good preventive practices at hospitals have reduced the incidence of infectious conjunctivitis of the newborn. Infants who do develop conjunctivitis and are quickly treated generally have good outcomes.
Talk to your health care provider if you have given birth (or expect to give birth) to a baby in a setting where antibiotic or silver nitrate drops are not routinely placed in the infant's eyes -- for example, if you are having an unsupervised birth at home. This is especially important if you have had, or are at risk for, any sexually transmitted disease.
Rubenstein JB, Virasch V. Conjunctivitis: infectious and noninfectious. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.6.
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