What You Need to Know About Eye Patching
Has your child been diagnosed with amblyopia? Treating the condition with an eye patch may help strengthen your child's weak eye and improve their vision.
When Is a Patch Needed?
Your child may need to wear a patch over one eye if he or she has been diagnosed with amblyopia, also known as "lazy eye". The condition occurs when the eyes send different images to the brain.
If your child doesn't receive treatment, his or her brain may eventually disregard the information it receives from one of the eyes. Should this happen, your child may experience lifelong vision issues, such as double or blurred vision, depth perception, or peripheral vision problems.
Amblyopia can be caused by misalignment of the eyes or might happen if there is a significant difference in visual acuity (sharpness of vision) between the eyes. Other causes can include cataracts or drooping eyelids that interfere with vision.
How Do Patches Help?
Patching the stronger eye forces your child to use the weaker eye. Eventually, the weaker eye will get stronger, and the patch will no longer be needed.
Although kids wore patches for hours at a time years ago, your child will probably only need to wear the patch between two to six hours a day. The patch should be worn every day, even on the weekends.
Patches must block out light completely, whether they're worn over the eye or placed on an eyeglass lens. Depending on the severity of your child's condition, he or she may need to wear the patch for weeks or months.
How Can I Get My Child to Wear the Patch?
Convincing your child to put on the patch may be one of the more difficult challenges you'll face as a parent. Fortunately, most kids do adjust to wearing a patch in just a few weeks.
These strategies may make the adjustment process easier:
- Limit Patch Wearing Time. If your child's eye doctor approves, your child might wear the patch for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening or afternoon. Splitting sessions may make your child more willing to put on the patch.
- Personalize Patches. Your child may find wearing the patch more appealing if he or she can decorate the outside with colorful designs, figures, or stickers.
- Set a Schedule. When patch-wearing sessions occur at the same time every day, they become a regular part of your child's routine.
- Offer Rewards: Wearing a patch may seem like less of an ordeal to your child if you offer incentives. Try offering stickers, extra bedtime stories, a visit to a favorite local park, or other rewards.
Can Vision Therapy Improve Lazy Eye?
Combining patching with vision therapy treatments may reduce the amount of time your child needs to wear a patch, according to a Review of Optometry article. The therapy can help the eyes work together as a team and improve eye tracking, hand-eye coordination, focusing, and peripheral and 3D vision.
Depending on your child's issues, therapy may involve special lenses or prisms, balance balls, filters, activities, and games. Your child's vision therapist may also recommend some exercises that your child can do at home. Vision therapy activities and games are geared to your child's developmental level and designed to be fun and challenging.
Combining vision therapy with eye patching could help your child improve their vision. Contact our office to schedule a comprehensive vision examination for your child.