Why do babies have teary eyes?
Excessive eye-watering in babies may occur due to various medical conditions, including allergies, infections, the common cold, and a blocked tear duct. This symptom is also known as epiphora, which means that the eyes are producing excess tears. These are some of the causes of watering eyes:
Red, watery eyes may indicate that your child has allergic conjunctivitis. The irritants that can cause an allergic reaction in the eye include dust, smoke, and pollen. Apart from red, watery eyes, your baby may also experience an itching or burning sensation and puffy or swollen eyelids.
Watery eyes may also occur due to hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Other symptoms and signs of this condition include:
- Itchy and/or runny nose
- Postnasal drip and nasal congestion
- Pain or pressure in the ear canal
Infections such as conjunctivitis may also cause your baby’s watery eyes. The cause of conjunctivitis (also called a pink eye) is usually a virus or, less commonly, bacteria. Some of the other symptoms of conjunctivitis include:
- Red, watery eyes
- Pus-like discharge from the eyes (in the case of bacterial conjunctivitis)
- Swelling of the eyes
You may pass an infection such as gonorrhea or Chlamydia to your newborn baby during childbirth, even if you don’t have any symptoms of the sexually transmitted infection. If your newborn baby shows any signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis, visit a physician immediately. He or she may examine the eyes of your baby for redness, dilatation of the blood vessels, and swelling.
Blocked tear duct
The blockage of a tear duct is a common cause of watery eyes in infants — more than 30 percent experience this condition. A tear duct drains the tears from the eyes into the nose by way of tiny openings present inside the eyelids. A blockage of the tear ducts prevents this movement, causing tears to accumulate in the eyes. Your baby may have a blocked tear duct at birth, as it isn’t fully open or the opening is very narrow. The condition gets better on its own in about 90 percent of babies by the time they reach one year old.
A blocked tear duct can also occur due to nasal polyps, a tumor or cyst, or trauma to your baby’s eye. Apart from constantly watery eyes, other symptoms of this condition include crusting in the eyelashes and eyelids and a pus-like discharge from the eyes.
A common cold can also cause watering eyes. Babies are more prone to the common cold than adults, as they haven't established immunity and often touch their noses, mouths, and eyes, leading to the spread of germs. Your baby may also develop other symptoms of a cold, including sneezing, coughing, a decreased appetite or fever, and a runny or stuffy nose.