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Eye Infection in Babies : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

It is impossible to imagine life without good eyesight. This becomes that much more important in babies and newborns. Eyes are one of the most important parts of the body. Without good eyesight, it will be difficult for a baby to identify objects and recognize people. They will not be able to be involved in playing activities.

Eye Infections in Babies are quite common as babies are most vulnerable to environmental allergens which may affect the eye. Some infections may clear up on their own while some may require treatment by a skilled ophthalmologist. Eye Infections in Babies is not something which can be ignored or left to be taken care of later as the problem may become more complicated and may affect the eyesight of the baby permanently. If this happens, it may severely dent the self confidence of the child, as the child may get a feeling of being different from his or her peers.

Eye Infection in Babies will make them more irritable as is the case with most infections in babies. The baby may try to rub the eye too often. Once a parent notices an eye infection, it becomes essential to take the baby to a skilled ophthalmologist for a regular eye checkup so as to catch any Eye Infection early.

Babies have a developing immune system and their body is still in the developing stage and hence it cannot fight off bacterial or viral infections. Therefore, babies are prone to infections and since eye is exposed to the surroundings it becomes a soft target for the pathogens to get inside the body and cause Eye Infections in Babies.

For newborns, it is essential for the baby to be given antibiotic eyedrops at the time of birth as during the birth the eyes may get infected by bacteria. These infections may be serious and may lead to serious vision problems later on in life.

The following article gives an indepth knowledge of what are the different types of Eye Infection in Babies and what needs to be done for their treatment so that the eyesight of the baby does not get affected.

Eye Infection in Babies

What are the Causes of Eye Infection in Babies?

Eye Infection in Babies can be caused due to various factors with the main offending pathogens being different types of bacteria and viruses which may attack the baby. Eye Infection in Babies can be caused due to the child rubbing the eyes too often which may result in irritation of the outer layer of the eye. In case if anybody with dirty hands has touched the baby’s hands then it becomes easier for bacteria and viruses to enter the body and cause Eye Infection in Babies.

Some of the common Eye Infections in Babies are:

  • Conjunctivitis: This is one of the most common Eye Infection in Babies and every child or baby once in a while has this condition. Also known by the name of Pink Eye, it causes irritation to the eyes. It is usually caused by bacterial or viral infection. It is a condition which rapidly spreads. Hence it is advised that a child with this condition should not be allowed to go near the baby so as to prevent the baby from conjunctivitis.
  • Ocular Histoplasmosis Syndrome: This is another common Eye Infection in Babies. Histoplasmosis is a common disease of the lungs caused by inhalation of a kind of spore. Once a baby gets infected with histoplasmosis then gradually this infection spreads to the eye. The fungus from the lungs spreads to the retina of the eye over a period of time resulting in Eye Infection in Babies. Once the infection reaches the eye it may result in damage to the macula and cause retinal decay and ultimately destruction of the central part of the field of vision.
  • Herpes Simplex: This is also an infection that may be observed in babies born to mothers with this infection. This condition may result in ulceration of the cornea and may affect the eyesight of the baby.
  • Bacterial Keratitis: This is an Eye Infection in Babies that spreads by touch. A dirty or infected hand touching the baby’s eyes may cause this condition, as the bacteria infiltrates the eyes and result in irritation of the eyes
  • Medical Conditions: There are also certain conditions which result in Eye Infection in Babies. These conditions are tuberculosis, leprosy, Lyme diseases, acanthamoeba, crab lice, Epstein, mumps, measles, influenza, onchocerciasis, sarcoidosis, mycosis and herpes.

What are the Symptoms of Eye Infection in Babies?

The classic presenting feature of Eye Infection in Babies is irritation in the eye and the eyes getting red. There may also be watery discharge from the eyes. The baby may act fussy and may be irritated. The baby may have episodes of inconsolable crying due to pain and irritation in the eye. There may also be vision disturbance as a symptoms of eye infection. Another presenting feature of Eye Infection in Babies are presence of floaters in the tears which appear as tiny bubles or dark spots suggesting damage to the eyes. Some of the common symptoms of Eye Infection in Babies are:

  • Eye pain with a feeling of constantly rubbing the eye as if something is inside the eye
  • The baby may not be able to close or open the eyes fully
  • The eyes may appear swollen
  • Persistent discharge from the eyes
  • Decreased blink response.

If the infection has spread and advanced and has caused damage to the retina or the optic nerves then in that case there will be no pain or other visible symptoms until later on in life which may cause permanent damage to the eyes of the baby.

In majority of the cases, the ophthalmologist is skilled enough to identify Eye Infection in Babies just by looking at the appearance of the eyes and formulate a treatment plan to treat the infection and prevent any damage to the eyes of the baby.

How is Eye Infection in Babies Treated?

Common infections of the eyes like conjunctivitis or keratitis can be treated by normal eyedrops which will be prescribed by the ophthalmologist. Apart from that, some of the other treatments that can be rendered are:

  • Application of sea salt and warm water on the eyes by soaking it in a soft cloth to soothe the eyes and facilitate clearing of Eye Infection in Babies
  • In cases of eye discharge, it becomes important for the parent to clear the discharge immediately so that crusts are not formed complicating things and making Eye Infection in Babies more complex.
  • Cleaning the baby’s eyes in regular intervals with warm water
  • Antihistamine eyedrops have shown effectiveness in treatment of Eye Infection in Babies by calming down pain and irritation
  • In case of a bacterial or viral cause for Eye Infection in Babies, antibiotics and anti-viral may be prescribed by the physician to treat the condition and getting rid of the infection.

To summarize, eyes are the most sensitive part if the human body specially in babies and must be protected from any damage. Parents need to be extra careful when taking care of their babies to make sure that their baby is infection free. They should no allow people to take the baby without properly cleaning the hands so as to prevent any bacterial or viral attack. As a responsible parent, it should be made sure that any infected individual should not venture near the baby until the infection has cleared up.

It is important to catch Eye Infection in Babies early so as to prevent any permanent damage to the eyes. In cases of any other source for Eye Infection in Babies then that potential source needs to be treated. It is important to catch Eye Infection in Babies early and treat them so that the baby does not go through sufferings of pain and irritation caused by preventable causes of Eye Infection in Babies.


  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology – “Eye Infections in Children”: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/eye-infections-children
  2. HealthyChildren.org – “Eye Infections in Children”: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/eyes/Pages/Eye-Infections-in-Children.aspx
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine – “Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) in Newborns and Infants”: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/conjunctivitis-pink-eye-in-newborns-and-infants

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 10, 2023

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