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Jeffrey Berkowitz, MD

Why Does Baby Have Red Streaks in the Whites of Her Eyes?

I’m worried because my baby has red streaks in the whites of her eyes. Is this normal?

Your newborn might have red streaks in her eyes — and while it’s perfectly normal to get freaked out, it’s really nothing to worry about. These red streaks are called subconjunctival hemorrhages (that’s a scary name for something harmless!), which are just broken blood vessels that will usually go away in one to two weeks. Blood vessels in baby’s eyes can break as a result of pressure changes during the stress of delivery, causing these red streaks to appear.

The clear surface of the eye is called the conjunctiva, and when a tiny blood vessel breaks just below the surface, the conjunctiva might not be able to absorb the blood quickly, so it gets trapped there for a few days or weeks, showing up as red streaks.

The broken blood vessels will bother you more than they will baby — they won’t irritate her or cause a change in her vision. There’s not much you can do to treat them (eyedrops won’t work), so you’ll just have to wait until the streaks disappear. Again, they normally go away within one or two weeks. Monitor baby’s eyes, and if the red streaks aren’t gone within two to three weeks or if more of them appear, talk to her pediatrician.

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