What Is Patching?
Patching is a technique for treating amblyopia (lazy eye). The better seeing eye is covered to encourage the development of vision in the weaker eye. Amblyopia can be caused by unequal eye glass prescriptions, crossed eyes, or other abnormalities that affect vision in young children.
How Long Will A Child Need to Wear the Patch?
This will vary with each individual child. As a general rule, the younger the age of the child and the shorter the time the eye has been affected the less time it will take for treatment. In young children vision may change rapidly. Occasionally, vision in the good eye may be decreased when the patch is removed, but will usually return to normal as soon as that eye is used again.
To ensure that a child is given the best possible chance to develop normal vision, patching may be continued for a few weeks or months after vision stabilizes. Once vision has improved in the weak eye there is a small chance that it may worsen again. Because of this, close monitoring is necessary throughout childhood. If the vision does not improve after a reasonable period of effective patching, your ophthalmologist may recommend that this treatment be discontinued.
At first your child may not want to wear the patch. It is important to keep encouraging you child to wear the patch to improve the vision. If you are having trouble, try placing the patch on the eye before your child wakes up. TV, video games or another favorite activity may help pass the time when wearing the patch. It is crucial that you child wears the patch while awake as the patch will not improve vision if the child is asleep. Avoid using the patch when your child is engaged in activities that might be dangerous such as sports, bicycle riding, etc.
What Kind of Patch Should Be Used?
The patch should be comfortable. It should remain firmly in place and should not allow any peeking around the edges. Commercial patches come in “regular” and “junior” sizes and are available at Eye Surgery Associates and most drug stores. Eye patches with elastic and occluders which clip onto glasses, are not recommended as they may allow peeking. The patch should be attached directly to the skin around the eye for best results.
What Is Patching?