Many our younger patients have a lazy eye. Amblyopia develops when the brain switches off or suppresses vision in one eye. This may happen if a child struggles to see as well with one eye due to issues with distance vision, and in some cases, astigmatism, or something else that’s obstructing clear vision in that eye. In addition to eye glasses, one of the treatment options involves patching your child’s eye for a number of hours per day to stimulate vision in the lazy eye. So how does patching really help? Basically, wearing an eyepatch helps your brain to better communicate with the weaker eye, which, following a period of time, will help that eye get stronger.
Many parents find it really hard to fit their kids with eye patches, especially when they’re preschool-aged. When their better eye is covered, it restricts their ability to see. It may be tricky to rationalize the process to your young child; that they must wear the patch to improve their weaker eye, but that weak eyesight is just what makes patches so difficult. There are several ways that make eyepatches a bit less challenging for kids to wear. For preschoolers, use a reward chart with stickers. Eye patch manufacturers are aware of the issue; patches are sold in lots of kid-friendly colors and patterns. Let your child be a part of the process and make it an activity by allowing them to select their patch each day. Older kids can usually understand the process, so it’s helpful to have a talk about it.
Flotation wings are also helpful in keeping little kids from pulling their patches off.
Patches are a great solution to lazy eyes and can be very successful, but it really requires you to stay committed to your long term goal.