When is eye patching recommended?
Patching is recommended when children are diagnosed with amblyopia or lazy eye. It works by occluding the eye with normal vision so that the vision in the poorer seeing amblyopic eye improves.
– aapos.org (American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus)
If you are like Cole’s mom from the previous post, hearing that your young child needs to wear a patch can be very daunting. Young kids are not known for their patience or their calm reasoning abilities. They don’t like to sit still and certainly don’t want something covering the eye in which they have stronger vision.
Speaking from my own experience, when my oldest son was twenty months old and confirmed as legally blind with strabismic amblyopia (a turned in eye and weaker vision in his right eye), I was ill-prepared for the fight ahead. As we waited the ten-weeks for his extremely high-powered glasses to be created, I begin to think of ways to get my toddler ready for the patching power struggles ahead.
At the time, we lived in a cold climate and he needed to wear a hat to keep warm. He would constantly fight me on this and continually rip the hat off again and again. I used this as our training ground. I would start by being clear and firm, “Mom says this hat needs to stay on your head.” I would place it on him, and if he took it off, I would repeat the process. He was a stubborn little guy and this could take 20, 40, 50 times before he would finally give up and just keep it on. This is when he began to learn that if mom said something needed to stay on him, it did. It definitely helped when his glasses arrived and the patching began.
In Cole’s case, he was significantly older when his patching was to begin. At the age of five he already had some distinct ideas and preferences. According to his mom, “The sticker patches were a disaster. So I bought him a felt pirate patch. The fuzzies were bothering him. I bought some thinner patches and life has been better since.” Make sure you check with a pediatric ophthalmologist like Dr. Dawn Duss to ensure the patch is being used correctly so it can be the most effective.
What kind of children’s eye patch should be used?
An eye patch with adhesive on the back is best. It looks like a Band Aid. The patch should be large enough to cover the child’s eye completely. Some adhesive patches are made with colorful designs that encourage the child to wear the patch. Cloth patches that fit over the child’s glasses are also available. In order for the cloth patch to work effectively, the glasses must be fit well on the face and there must be no way for the child to peek around the patch. Pirate patches are often not effective because they do not fit tightly enough to the child’s face to block light and kids frequently just move them so they can see around them.
Pediatric Eye Consultants are a wonderful support when patching is necessary for your child’s vision. They have years of experience and the patience to help you get on the right track. Dr. Dawn Duss will encourage you and explain in detail why patching is so critical in helping improve vision. With her wisdom and great staff, patching your child’s eye will soon become second nature for you both.