If your baby's eyes are glassy, they may be open wide and she may appear to be staring off into space. They may also look shiny and wet. Sometimes vision disturbances or eye problems may cause glassiness, and other times mild or severe illnesses may cause her to have glassy eyes. If your baby's demeanor changes or she exhibits worrisome symptoms, take her to the doctor for an evaluation.
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Mild strabismus is often called a "wandering eye." Especially if the condition is intermittent, you may first notice that one of your baby's eyes looks glassy. It may be most apparent when he is tired, because if he is focusing on an object, he may be able to control his wandering eye, temporarily eliminating the glassy appearance. Intermittent strabismus usually begins after 10 months of age.
In some cases, the common cold or another very mild and self-limiting illness may cause your baby's eyes to appear glassy. If she is uncomfortable, slightly feverish and suffering from teary eyes and a runny nose, her eyes may have a shiny, vacant appearance. If she is not feeding well due to congestion, she may also become a bit dehydrated, which can also lead to a glassy-eyed appearance. In general, the common cold will clear up within a week, and your baby will simply need extra snuggling and comfort.
Some illnesses are severe enough to cause marked dehydration, which can cause your baby to become lethargic and glassy-eyed. Examples are stomach viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea, colitis and other digestive illnesses. A high fever can also cause dehydration. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, and pneumonia can also cause a glassy-eyed look.
When to Call the Doctor
If your baby seems very sick, no matter what the symptoms, call his pediatrician or seek emergency care right away. Symptoms that warrant prompt evaluation include a high fever, a stiff neck, seizures, lethargy, breathing difficulties and constant crying. If your baby's glassy eyes last more than a few days, take him to the doctor for an evaluation to rule out or confirm health conditions. If you have concerns that your baby's vision may be affected by a wandering eye or glassiness, ask his pediatrician to check his eyes at his next well baby visit.