My husband and I noticed about a week and a half after she was born, Mila's left eye was closed shut by some crusty, teary gunk akin to what you might see when you have pink eye. I was completely freaked out, wondering if/how she could have gotten pink eye. Luckily, her two-week appointment was a few days away.
Her doctor explained to us that it was simply a clogged tear duct and is very normal for newborns. Pediatricians don't generally worry about this, as it usually clears up within the first year. If there is an infection, they may also choose to treat it with antibiotics.
If there's not an infection, there are things that parents can do to encourage the lacrimal duct to unclog and open on its own:
1. Breastmilk! The magical, miracle, natural elixir is at it again with its incredible troll-fighting, fairydust properties. But really. Breastmilk has antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it the perfect liquid to clean baby's eye. Just squirt some on there (yes, seriously) and wipe gently.
2. Massage the corner of the eye and a little bit onto the nose where the tear duct is located. This can help to loosen up the blockage, hopefully persuading it to fully vacate and let your baby's tears flow naturally and not pool in their eye. I've heard that this can simply be done with a clean finger, or with a warm, moistened towel. I haven't noticed a difference in one being better over the other, but it's worth a try.
Unfortunately, if it lasts beyond the first year, a doctor will usually suggest a surgical procedure to clear the clogged duct; however, the quick procedure requires local or general anesthesia and has a very fast recovery time.