Newborn Conjunctivitis Treatment
- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Treat Newborn Conjunctivitis
Since the potential for serious eye damage to the infant is so great, it is standard treatment in US hospitals to give infants antibiotic eye drops or ointment immediately following delivery. This helps prevent the development of an eye infection even if the mother shows no symptoms of infection.
In cases where conjunctivitis does develop, the treatment of ophthalmia neonatorum depends on the cause:
Blocked Tear Duct
In cases of ophthalmia neonatorum that are due to a blocked tear duct, the doctor may recommend warm compresses and gentle massage to the area to help unclog the duct.
Ophthalmia neonatorum due to irritation usually resolves on its own in a few days. In some cases, the irritation may be due to the antibiotic given after delivery. Silver nitrate, which was often used in the past to prevent eye infection, can cause irritation in the baby's eye. Many hospitals now use other types of antibiotics to avoid this irritation.
Infants that have an eye infection due to bacteria are given antibiotics. These antibiotics may be given as topical drops or ointments, orally, or as an injection. In addition, the eye may be irrigated to remove the discharge.
Fortunately, since hospitals today have such effective prevention measures, bacterial cases of ophthalmia neonatorum are rare. And when they do occur, they are usually identified quickly. Antibiotic treatment is very effective and generally, the infection resolves rapidly. If you suspect that your infant may have an infection in the eye, it is important to call your baby's doctor as soon as possible to receive prompt treatment.