Newborn eye drops

Kenneth Wright, MD Pediatric Ophthalmologist, explains why newborns are often given eyedrops and the purpose that the eyedrops serve in infants
Why Babies Are Given Eye Drops After Birth
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Newborn eye drops

Newborns routinely receive antibiotic eye drops. The reason for that is when the baby goes through the birth canal, they are exposed to bacteria. If the woman has a venereal disease, they can be exposed to bad bacteria. Even if the child is delivered as a c-section, if they break water, the head is still engaged in the vaginal canal and they come back out. They can still be exposed -- Their eyes can still be exposed to bacteria. The reason we give those antibiotic drops is to kill the bacteria that can be acquired through the birth canal. That said, if the woman does not have venereal disease, then the likelihood is that the baby is going to be fine without eye drops. Because, as physicians, we are not sure whether or not they have venereal disease, it's the protocol that most hospitals to give the eye drops to every baby. The reason that the hospitals are comfortable giving every baby eye drops, even though we know that most of the babies are not going to have a problem with venereal disease. The reason that we give the eye drops is because the risk is very low. All they are is eye drops or an ointment. It's very safe. The babies are not going to have allergy to it and it's a one time thing. When you look at the risk versus benefit, the benefit is that we are going to prevent eye veneral disease, and the risk is almost zero because the ointment is really so safe. Some say that the ointment or the drops blur the vision of the baby, and it's going to be bad for the baby. This is really not true. I've actually put the ointment in my own eye, and it blurs your vision for just a few seconds and your vision comes back. There is really no harmful effect of the ointment or the drops in the newborn baby.

Kenneth Wright, MD Pediatric Ophthalmologist, explains why newborns are often given eyedrops and the purpose that the eyedrops serve in infants


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Kenneth Wright, MD

Pediatric Ophthalmologist

A caring physician, Dr. Kenneth Wright is devoted to the health of children’s eyes. He is an internationally respected pediatric ophthalmologist, and is included in “The Best Doctors in America” and “Who’s Who in Medicine and Health Care.”  Dr. Wright is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the USC Keck School of Medicine.  He has developed novel surgical techniques for pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus.  Dr. Wright received his medical degree from Boston University and fellowships in pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus at Johns-Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and Children’s Hospital, Washington, DC.  Following his fellowships, he then accepted a full-time faculty member position at USC School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles where he served for 10 years.  He was later appointed Director of Pediatric Ophthalmology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, before returning home to Los Angeles to establish a pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus center of excellence.  

Dr. Wright has authored of over 100 published scientific papers, seven textbooks including his renowned textbook, Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and has lectured worldwide.  He founded the non-profit Wright Foundation with a mission to reduce blindness and suffering in children with eye disorders through research, education, and clinical care. He has established a pediatric eye clinic for underprivileged children.  Important to the Wright Center is the principle that patient care always comes first.  

An interesting personal note is that Dr. Wright’s youngest son developed crossed eyes as an infant requiring surgery and Dr. Wright operated on his own son.  The outcome was excellent and years later his son served in the United States Marine Corps as a top marksman.

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