Does your son or daughter have a lazy eye? It develops when vision is suppressed, but only in one eye. This may occur if your child isn't able to see well through one eye because of issues with distance vision, and in some cases, astigmatism, or something else that may be limiting clear sight in that eye. In most cases, patches are recommended in the treatment of a lazy eye. We generally instruct our patients to apply their patch for a couple of hours a day, and patients will usually also need corrective glasses. But how does wearing a patch really work? In short, implementing the use of a patch trains your child's brain to better communicate with the weaker eye, eventually strengthening how well it functions.
A lot of parents have trouble fitting their children with eye patches, particularly if they're preschool-aged. When the better eye is covered, it infringes on their ability to see. It may be challenging to rationalize the patch to your young child; that they need to wear the patch to improve the sight in their weaker eye, but that weak eyesight is precisely the thing that makes patching so hard. But fear not: there are a number of tricks that make eyepatches a little funner for children to wear. For preschool-aged kids, perhaps you can use a reward chart with stickers. Patch manufacturers understand the issue; patches are available in loads of kid-friendly colors and patterns. Take advantage of all the options and make it an activity by allowing them to choose a different patch every day. With older kids, explain the mechanics of wearing a patch, and refer to it as an exercise to help their vision in the long term.
Another method some parents have found success with is also placing an eye patch on their child's favorite doll or stuffed animal. For very young children, you can use flotation wings to keep them from pulling at their patches.
Patches are a great solution to lazy eyes and can be really successful, but it really requires your child's assistance and your ability to stick to the long-term goal of recovering good vision in your child's lazy eye.