My son had his first visit with a pediatric opthamologist well before his first birthday. I had noticed that my little boy had what looked like eyelash dandruff, with redness on his eyelid at the root of his eyelashes. While he was free of the eye conditions I learned were slightly more common in children with Down syndrome, he was diagnosed with blepharitis.
I was given directions on how to gently clean his eyelids at the roots of his eyelashes, twice a day. The doctor wrote a prescription for medicated eyedrops due to a risk of infection, and the condition cleared up. Although he had flare-ups of mild blepharitis several times in early childhood, washing with warm water and very mild diluted soap helped considerably.
His original eye doctor warned to watch for symptoms of dry eye, as some children with Down syndrome have tear ducts that are too small to make adequate tears, and one or both may be blocked. As I understand it, the oil glands on the rims of the eyelids can become plugged and that results in crusting or flaking. Some children develop painful styes on the rim of their eyelids that may be made more comfortable by a warm compress. These are problems that trouble some babies and young children who do not have Down syndrome.
Unfortunately, it may be more likely that a baby or young child with a developmental disability is restrained in a what used to be called a 'papoose board' for eye exams or eyedrops administered in the doctor's office. Children who are uncomfortable or frightened often respond better to a calm voice and kindness. Medical staff who rush or are impatient may create situations that would not have developed if they had allowed just a few more minutes with the child.
It is very important to consult with a medical professional when a baby or child has any redness, irregularities, or discomfort related to their eyes. Regular check ups with an opthamologist and optometrist are especially important for children with Down syndrome who are at greater risk for eye problems. Early diagnosis and treatment results in the best outcome for every child. The preventive care medical checklist for children with Down syndrome includes vision and eye care issues that should be shared with family doctors and specialists.
Please speak with your child's doctor before using products to clean eyelids, even if it is only diluted baby shampoo, Occusoft, or Thera Tears Sterilid EyeLid Cleansers.
Browse at your public library, local bookstore or online retailer for titles like: Medical & Surgical Care for Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents (Topics in Down Syndrome).
Dr. Len Leshin - Down Syndrome Health Issues
Health Care Guidelines to be printed for medical charts
Papoose Board Restraints - Dental or Medical Uses