Why Do We Patch The Eye?
Patching is one of the available treatment methods that is used to help children overcome Amblyopia, a common vision problem in children that can worsen over time. It is most commonly known as a “lazy” eye, but here at Speckles we prefer the term “curious eye.” Treating Amblyopia is crucial to helping your child to reclaim the vision in their affected eye and avoid ongoing issues. So if you’ve been told that you should patch your child’s eye, here’s a little more information about why that’s important.
What Is Patching?
Patching is a treatment process that involves covering the dominant eye (the one with better vision) for a period of time so that the brain gets used to relying on the weaker eye more. This is done during set intervals to help strengthen the eye and encourage communication with the brain through the visual pathway. It is a proven way to help the weaker eye to become more used to being an active team player, and over time it can help the brain to reestablish its confidence in the eye.
The Benefits of Patching
Patching is an easy to approach treatment process that helps the brain to reestablish the visual pathway, which is why so many doctors recommend it. It is a safe and effective way to establish strength in the eye over time and with commitment, most children can gain full vision in the eye. We love it because it’s completely non-invasive and fairly hands-off as far as therapy options go.
In some cases surgery and glasses is required to treat the underlying cause of Amblyopia (strabismus and/ or anisometropia) and patching will be used in conjunction to this for better visual outcomes.
How long should you Patch?
The amount of time that you should patch has been studied by the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG). Recommendations can vary depending on the severity of the Amblyopia, age of the child, and improvement shown over time. In most cases, preschool aged children can benefit from 2 hours of patching a day for mild to moderate Amblyopia. For more extreme cases, kids can be asked to patch up to 6 hours a day. We recommend that you take the time to sit down with your child’s doctor to ensure that you have a proper plan in place.
How to encourage your kids to patch
Many parents find that patching is a real struggle with their child when they first start. The best way to encourage patching for your kid is to use adhesive eye patches. These patches are not easily moved or played with and are generally more comfortable. Our top tip is to make patching fun. Games, colouring books, and other hands-on activities can help keep your child happy while also encouraging their eye to focus. Check out our patching do’s and don’ts here.