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Eye and Vision Care

Toddler Has Red Eyes, But Not Pink Eye

01/05/2010

Question:

My 2 year old has a small white bump on the white part of her eye to the left of her cornea on her left eye, and to the left of the cornea on her right eye. Both eyes are very red on just those halves. She has crusty lashes in the morning, but other than that does not complain about them hurting her at all. But they look awful! I have 5 kids, and have dealt with pink eye many, many times. I`m 99.9% that is not what this is. Help.

Answer:

It is difficult to say with any certainty without seeing the eyes, but it sounds like your daughter may have a phlyctenule on each eye. This is a hypersensitivity response (or like an allergic response) to something foreign to the body. The fact that she has crusty eyelids in the morning may mean she has blepharitis which is due to a type of bacteria. This blepharitis can cause the phlyctenules seen on the white part of the eye.

Based on your description I would agree that it does not sound like a typical pink eye.

I would bring your daughter to an eye doctor for a definitive diagnosis and possible treatment, especially if it is not improving.

You should definitely be keeping her eyelids clean with lid scrubs, which is taking a wet wash cloth with baby shampoo and scrubbing the lash line free of debris (crusty flakes). Lid scrubs will help not only with bacterial conjunctivitis but also with blepharitis.

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Response by:

Aaron  Zimmerman, OD, MS Aaron Zimmerman, OD, MS
Clinical Associate Professor of Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University