Many children have a lazy eye. It comes about when sight in one eye is suppressed. Vision might be suppressed if a child isn’t able to see properly through one eye because of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. In most cases, patches are recommended in the treatment of lazy eyes. We generally advise our patients to wear their patch for a couple of hours each day, and often the patients need corrective glasses as well. But how does patching really remedy the problem? In short, employing the use of an eyepatch helps your brain to better interact with the weaker eye, and over time, strengthen it.
Often, moms and dads have trouble fitting their children with patches, especially if they’re on the younger side. Their more active eye is patched, which restricts their ability to see. It can be tricky to explain the patch to your young child; that they must patch their strong eye to better their weaker eye, but that weak eyesight is exactly the thing that makes the patching so difficult. There are a few ways to encourage your child to wear their patch. With preschool-aged kids, you may find success by using a reward chart with stickers. Patch manufacturers are aware of your plight; patches are made in lots of patterns and colors that kids can get excited about. Take advantage of all the options and make it fun by allowing them to choose their patch each day and then putting a sticker on the chart when the patch is properly worn. With kids who are a little older, tell them about the mechanics of patching, and refer to it as a way to build strength in their eye.
Another method some parents have found success with is also placing a patch on their child’s favorite doll or stuffed animal. For very young children, you can use flotation wings to keep them from reaching their eyes to remove the patch.
Patches are a great solution to lazy eyes and can be really successful, but it really requires your child’s cooperation and your ability to stick to the long-term goal of recovering good vision in your child’s lazy eye.