Medical Q&As

Measles - eye risk?

Our baby girl is 9 months old. She has not had the MMR and now has measles. Is there anything else I should do besides keeping the temperature down and keeping her in a dark room? I am concerned about her eyes because it looks like it’s going into her eyes.

The rash associated with measles does not affect the eyes. This is one of the enduring myths about the infection and this is why the advice has been passed down over the generations about the need to keep the infected child in a darkened room. Sometimes the child’s eyes may appear to be very watery and irritated and perhaps that is what you are observing. It is not necessary to keep the child in a dark room. Children with measles often develop high temperature and I note from your query that you are already attending to that. It is also important that the child drinks sufficient amounts of liquid because the body can lose significant amounts of fluid as a result of a raised temperature. The nature of the liquid is not of critical importance. Juice, milk, soft drinks or tap water are all fine. It is the volume of fluid consumed that is important. If the child will eat for you it is reasonable to keep feeding the child however, children with measles are often quite irritable and lose their appetite. In that situation there is nothing significant to be gained by forcing a sick child to eat if it really doesn’t want to. Children often lose weight as a result of measles but they usually regain that weight reasonably quickly once they have recovered from the infection. Measles is highly infectious so it is important to keep the child isolated from your neighbours’ children.