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Eye Irritation in Children: Care Instructions

Parts of the eye

Your Care Instructions

Many children have minor eye problems, such as eyestrain, irritated eyes, or itchy eyes.

Watching a lot of television, playing video games, or using the computer a lot can decrease your child's natural blink reflex. This can cause dry, red, and irritated eyes. Sometimes a dry climate, allergies, contact lenses, smoke, or pollution can bother the eyes.

Whatever the cause of your child's irritated eyes, it is important to work with your doctor to find ways to help your child's eyes feel better. Home treatment can relieve the symptoms of many minor eye problems.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child take breaks often when reading, watching TV, or using a computer. Tell your child to close his or her eyes and not to rub them. Over-the-counter artificial tears may help when your child is doing these activities.
  • Avoid smoke and other things that irritate the eyes.
  • Have your child wear wraparound sunglasses to protect the eyes from sun, wind, and grit.
  • Place a humidifier by your child's bed or close to your child. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine.
  • Do not use fans while your child sleeps.
  • If your child usually wears contact lenses, have him or her use rewetting drops or wear glasses until the eyes feel better.
  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • Try using artificial tears at least 4 times a day.
  • If your child needs drops more than 4 times a day, use preservative-free artificial tears. They are less likely to irritate the eyes than artificial tears with preservatives.
  • Use a lubricating eye ointment or eye gel at bedtime. Lubricants are thicker and last longer, so there is less burning, dryness, and itching when your child wakes up in the morning. Be aware that they may blur vision for a short time.
  • To put in eyedrops or ointment:
    • Tilt your child's head back, and pull the lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your child's eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to the eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Put a warm, moist compress on your child's eyelids every morning for about 5 minutes. Then massage the eyelids lightly. This helps increase the natural wetness of the eyes.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has eye pain.
  • Your child has new blurred vision.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child's eye has new redness.
  • Your child's eye has a new discharge.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.