Pediatric Perspectives: Eye Boogers

Loveless Hoffman, Valley View HospitalBy Kelsea Loveless-Hoffman, MD, Pediatric Partners at Valley View

One of the most common concerns that I hear about from new parents is about goop in their newborn’s eyes.  “They wake up every morning with yellow crusty-goop that sticks their eyes shut!” Most families worry that their new baby has ‘pink eye’ or an infection and with good reason.  We treat every newborn with eye ointment right after delivery to prevent bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye) which could lead to chronic eye problems and even blindness.  So how do we tell the normal from the scary?

The first thing a pediatrician is going to do is examine your baby.  We are looking for swelling, abnormal discharge or red eyes.  If everything appears normal, then we feel comfortable that this is probably the very, very common problem of nasolacrimal duct obstruction, or simply a blocked tear duct.  Basically, the drainage system of the eye is clogged and tears have nowhere to go.  How does this happen?  Well, babies are tiny and so are all of their baby parts, which makes it very easy for a narrow duct to become blocked or clogged.  Once this happens tears overflow, and as they dry, they become yellow, goopy, crusty, eye-boogers.  It is worse after the baby has napped or slept for a while because the tears have had a longer time to accumulate.

So, if it’s normal, what can we do about it?  Mostly we don’t do much.  Cleaning away the crust with a warm washcloth is the most helpful thing parents can do.  Sometimes massaging the duct can be helpful, too.  Parents can use their fingers and gently place them on the sides of the nose right under their baby’s eyes.  Smooth, soft downward motion can help clear those ducts.

But, as always, if you are worried, please never hesitate to come in and see your friendly pediatrician who can rule out all the scary things for you! Believe me, we love seeing your new baby!


Kelsea Loveless-Hoffman, MD is a board-certified pediatrician at Valley View’s Pediatric Partners.  Dr. Kelsea’s passion for pediatrics became firmly rooted during her clinical rotations, and now she can’t imagine doing anything else in medicine. To her, it’s an honor to support families during the first year; it’s such a special time and she finds it rewarding to be a part of it. Dr. Kelsea enjoys connecting with families to watch their kids’ development over time. Kids and teenagers develop such fun personalities and they have so many interests; building a trusting relationship with families during these life stages makes her feel like she is making a difference. Dr. Kelsea is currently welcoming new patients of all ages, birth to 18, in Glenwood Springs, Silt and Willits in Basalt.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 970.947.9999.

BackToTop_Icon