Blindsided Again!

Yesterday my daughter Lila had her followup visit with the ophthalmologist. It’s been three months since she got her glasses, and the point of the visit was to make sure the glasses are doing their job, which is to help bring her left eye up to speed and to stop putting all the burden on her stronger right eye.

Lila’s been such a good sport about wearing her glasses, and she now enjoys “reading” (unlike before, when she’d run away when we tried to sit her down with a book). So I knew the glasses were working. But just like the first time she went to the eye doctor and I didn’t even join my husband on the appointment because I was so sure there was nothing wrong, I once again found myself taken aback by the outcome.

The first part of the exam went fine. The doctor complimented Lila for following his finger back and forth so well. He asked if she ever crosses her eyes. Nope. Does she wear her glasses regularly? Yep. All good.

Then we moved on to vision chart, where Lila, still in glasses, had to identify pictures projected on the wall while a tissue covered her good eye. First up: a cake with candles.

“Birthday cake.”

Then a bird. “Duck.” Close enough.

Then a hand. “Birthday cake.” Crap.

“That’s a birthday cake?” the doctor asked.

I found myself looking at the fingers and thinking, “They sort of look like candles…”

He tried again, using a bigger version of the hand. “Birthday cake.”

That was all it took for him to recommend Lila wear an eye patch in addition to her glasses.  She’ll wear it over her good eye for the next four weeks. If the doctor determines that her weaker eye is getting stronger, she can stop the patch, but we’ll have to check back in a month after that to make sure her eye isn’t weakening again.

I felt like crying when he told me all of this. But when Lila asked, “Mommy, you sad?” I snapped out of it. We picked up the patches at CVS and headed home to try them on.

This daughter of mine—who isn’t what I would call a low-maintenance child—didn’t even flinch when I applied the patch. She didn’t try to remove it, she didn’t complain. It was a non-issue.

My older daughter, on the other hand… She was the one who needed comfort. Julia cried when she saw Lila with the patch. Then she told me in a quiet, shaky voice, “I don’t even want to look at her.” Then she stared nonstop, with a furrowed brow and panicked expression. So we had a private little talk. She admitted that she’s worried about Lila’s eyes. She thinks Lila looks “funny” with the patch. She’s scared people will laugh at her little sister. I was able to calm her down by explaining that I was upset at first too, and that the patch really will help Lila. But at bedtime the fears started in again, and she said she didn’t want Lila to walk with her into day camp like she usually does because she doesn’t want her counselors to stare at her. Sigh.

But here’s my question for all of you who’ve been down this patch path: Are the cheapie ones from the drugstore the way to go, at least for now? I like them because they’re subtle. But should we try the more colorful ones that Lila might find more fun to wear—and may last longer—but will also draw lots of attention to her? You were all so great about sharing advice when I found out Lila needed glasses. I’d be grateful for more now that we’re at this next step.  Thank you!

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  1. by Kaely

    On July 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I wore a patch when I was a kid and eventually needed surgery. I didn’t get my glasses and patch until I was in second grade. I hated those sticky patches and I was much happier with the black elastic one. I used paint pens to pretty it up a bit. It was the 80s and there weren’t many options.

    Are the blurry eye drops not an option? I think I would have chosen drops if it had been an option for me.

  2. by Jennifer

    On July 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Have you looked at patchpals.com? I am an Optometrist, and I have parents say that these make it much easier and more comfortable to patch a child. Hope this helps.

  3. by Jessica

    On July 13, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I as well as my younger brother wore a patch for amblyopia which sounds a lot like what this little girl has….. Neither of us needed surgery following and I now do not even where glasses (my brother) wears contacts. It is not the end of the world… she will get over it… the worst part of it that i remember was taking it off every night (it was sticky like a band-aid). She will not be scarred it will not be a big deal later on in life and take lotsa pictures because it will make for great fun around the holidays during adulthood!!!

    Love,
    From someone who has been there!

  4. by Mandy

    On July 13, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Let Lila choose…the fun patches with lots of color or the skin colored ones. Maybe you could even get Julia involved and they could both choose patches. As far as which ones…each kids skin is different, so just like bandages, use what works for her. Do the girls understand why the patches are being used? If so one of the most empowering things you can do is to take them in and let them tell the class and the teachers that Lila has a patch on her eye because…. That really helped when my niece was wearing patches.

  5. by Catie

    On July 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

    My daughter had surgery when she was 18 months, before that We had to patch her eye for an hour a day alternating eyes each day. After surgery they seeemed to straighten out but when we took her back to her ophtalmologist one of her eyes was starting to turn in again so she has to wear glasses and we have to patch her good eye also. But we only have to do it for an hour a day so her weak eye builds strength, we use the cheap ones cuz they work just as good, and we try to do the patch only at home so we don’t have rude peole who will stare. I have never heard of a child needing to wear the patch all the time, we have only ever been told to do it for one – two hours a day.

  6. by marci lambert

    On July 13, 2011 at 10:45 am

    be sure to vary the placement of the patch each day. my daughter had to wear one for a while and one day i inadvertently ripped a bit of her skin off when i peeled it off. that was a fun day.

  7. by Ginger

    On July 13, 2011 at 10:46 am

    My daughter has been wearing a patch since November. Sooo…9 months now. She is done with it next month. She started out with the sticky pretty ones, but we quickly realized that those were just tearing up the delicate skin around her eyes. I quickly did some research and came across Patch Pals and we haven’t looked back. We buy them from our local eye care place. They are $10 each but last a long time. Even through the wash ;-) She coordinates her eye patches to whatever her outfit is that day. She must have about 8 or 10 of them. And the compliments she gets wherever we go helps the process. Sure people stare but the nice comments such as “Cool patch!” and “Do you have an extra one for me!” have helped tremendously. Good luck!

  8. by Heather

    On July 13, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I was basically in the same position as Kaely. Patch then surgery. My patch was a silver metal over a white soft one. I decorated mine with stickers and such. Mind you this was late 70s/early 80s. Maybe it would help your other daughter if she could design a patch for her sister. You know, maybe paint it or something special. I know it is usually harder on the family than the child and it would also be a bonding experience for them

  9. by Renee

    On July 13, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I wore an eyepatch as a child. I believe for 6 months. I also had to tie a bead to a string put the end of the string on my nose and the bead streched straight out and stare at it for 15 minutes a day. I was 5 years old, and while I hated it-I am thankful I did because today I have 20/20 and I have never had to have surgery. Good luck to your baby girl!

  10. by Lisa Andrews

    On July 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

    http://www.ortopadusa.com/ Check out this site, I order from them for my baby daughter she’s 7 months.

  11. by Melissa

    On July 13, 2011 at 11:02 am

    You could try letting Lila color on the plain patches before you apply them. I wouldn’t buy the expensive ones unless Lila really becomes uncomfortable by them or gets a rash from the adhesive. People will be less likely to make a big deal about it as long as you don’t. Allow people to ask questions but don’t address people who are staring or being rude. I have known children who have had to wear them and it really did help their weaker eye catch up.

  12. by Tina

    On July 13, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Kara,
    You are so lucky this was caught early! I work with kids and the cheap ones work great for them! Just think of them as braces, or better yet a safety belt, you are protecting her eyesight. I have seen too many adults who didn’t wear their glasses as a kids, or their parents didn’t follow up with the eye doctors who lost the vision of the bad eye(the brain just with turn off the vision of the eye giving it data it deams as junk information). When I see a kids with a patch I always think, “That Mom is on the Ball.”

  13. by Pam

    On July 13, 2011 at 11:19 am

    My son is almost 3 and he has Strabismus and Amblyopia, and he has patched up to 4 hrs a day, as well as currently has glasses. He has also had to use prescription drops to dilate & blur his “good” eye. He will be having surgery soon.
    I was coming on to recommend http://www.ortopadusa.com/ as well. They have wonderful self-adhesive patches with all kinds of great & fun designs and they also sell decorate-your-own with coloring and stickers. They also have white/skin color and hypoallergenic ones too.
    Also, FYI, there is a DVD about puppets wearing eye patches available on Amazon.com and a few books available. the one we liked best was called :my wandering eye” but there are others. Hang in there…its tough, but you need to put on a brave face for your child. I thank God every day that these are the worst things I need to deal with. At least my child is healthy. My heart goes out to those who are not so lucky.

  14. by Kathy

    On July 13, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I would go to the websites already mentioned and let Lila choose, and maybe her big sister can help out too. I also wore a patch and glasses for the same reason when I was in kindergarten through second grade. I was extremely self-conscious and of course they didn’t have the cool glasses or patches back then. Good luck to you and hope everything works out for you and your family. :-)

  15. by JoAnna Kwaloff

    On July 13, 2011 at 11:56 am

    We have these, and they are way more gentle than the ortopads in terms of adhesive. I think some of it depends on how long you have to wear them; we only need them on for 2 hours per day right now, and when we take off the ortopads especially, it *hurts*.

    http://funeyepatchkitsforkids.com/

    I just got the blank patches since we have tons of stickers and stuff to do with them here, my daughter loves decorating them!

  16. by Calm Down

    On July 13, 2011 at 11:59 am

    You all need to calm down. I wore a patch as a first grader. I don’t even remember it. We have a few photos of me with an eye patch, which is how I know I wore one, and sparked my memories last time I saw the photos. But this is not a big deal at all. Doesn’t matter what sort of patches you choose. If you keep it low-key, stop freaking out, stop the older child from freaking out, stop writing about this like it’s some crisis (gah! my son died — if only he had to wear a patch instead!) she will completely forget about it by the time she’s a teenager.

  17. by JoAnna Kwaloff

    On July 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Ooooh, also just found this link:

    http://www.amblyopiakids.com/p/eye-patch-reviews.html

    My daughter has just started wearing hers, so I’m figuring it all out too! :)

  18. by Jennu

    On July 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I feel for you. At 2months old, my daughter had a cataract removed from her right eye. Leaving her with no natural lens and an eye that has extremely poor vision. I daily, have to put a special contact in that eye so she has the ability to see. In addition, she also has to patch, the goal being to improve her eye sight. At 13 months old she had her second surgery to correct her lazy eye. Our doctors said that without the surgery to correct it that her sight most likely will not improve. We found ourselves again in a children’s hospital. We will have to patch her for at least 9 years. At first this was so overwhelming . But you take one day at a time. Currently my daughter refuses to wear the patch….she immediately takes it off. Our next option is a black contact for her good eye in place of a patch. But we know all will be ok. In the grand scheme of things, this is really a blip on the radar. I say let her choose. Although my instinct has been to be proud and not ashamed or worried, that way my daughter won’t worry as she gets older. She is now 15 months old and I pray daily that as she gets older, she will not be self conscious about her eye issues. Hope this helped. In the beginning I was so worried also, I haven’t encountered many people who have gone through this, and it sometimes feels lonely, but talking about it helps. Good luck!!!!

  19. by mary

    On July 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I am in my 60′s and did not find out until I was an adult. It was much worse. She will be grateful when she us older.

  20. by Kara Corridan

    On July 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    These suggestions are great–thanks for all the links and product recommendations. Kaely, you asked about drops; the dr said that will be our next step if the patch doesn’t work. Pam and Jennu, I wish your son and daughter the very best. And to “Calm Down,” I hear you! I feel SO lucky that this is the biggest health problem I’m facing with my child. I want to help her (and her sensitive older sister) through it as best as I can. I so appreciate everyone’s advice!

  21. by Kellie

    On July 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    My 6yr old son had to wear a eyepatch with his glasses as well. He wore it usually with no problems, we set it up so that each day he wore one he would put it up on a poster marking it off and once he reached 3months of that he got an awesome toy ~ a nerf gun which is what he wanted. We used the eye patches from Wal-mart or Wal-greens.

    Sounds like your daughter has the same issues my son does with his eyes, a variation of amblyopia.

    Your older daughter will get used to it, tell her that her sister is just the same as she was before, and if people point and laugh, it just means they have a mean spirited heart and that she has a good spirited heart.

  22. by Maria Dellapina

    On July 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Look into a product called Crafty Patches, They wont hurt the skin around the eye. They are wonderful (has a facebook page too)

  23. by Catherine

    On July 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    My 5 year-old daughter has been patching for the last 2 1/2 years. We only use theOrtopad® Elite Hypo-Allergenic Eye Patches found on ortopadusa.com. The adhesive is strong, yet gentle on the skin and their new design contours around the nose to eliminate peaking. She prefers the bright, girly colors over the plain beige patches. I, too, thought the plain ones were more discreet, but strangers will walk up to us and ask about the patch whether she’s wearing a plain one or a bright one… so now she wears the bright ones and is happier. She even likes to match them to her clothes. Good Luck!

  24. by samantha

    On July 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    try this site in uk…they do post to america… http://meyepatch.co.uk/ they attach to childs glasses..

  25. by Kristy Whitlatch

    On July 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    My son was just about 4 when he started wearing his patches. The doctor gave us some of their fun adhesive patches, but my mom and i found a pattern for a very simple one that hooks onto the glasses and my son loves them. He got to go to the store to pick out the fabric, Buzz lightyear, Pirates, bugs, monsters, trucks….whatever struck him as cool or fun we got a few inches of each fabric. He has a baggieful of them now and chooses which one he wants to wear each day. wearing it has never been a problem and people ask him about them, i have had a couple kids stare but nobody has ever made fun. his lazy eye was VERY far from his good eye, so he has been wearing them for almost a year, but they are definitely helping him catch up. the ones i have seen online are costly, but you can make them more personalized and much cheaper and then they’re way more fun to wear.

  26. by Jaime Wood

    On July 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    hi! my son who is now 7, had a lazy left eye, and he has to wear glasses always as he is also farsighted. He has had glasses since he was 2 years old. We had to use a patch too, when he was coloring, reading, and not with walking or active activities, as their judgement on things and how close things are are not so sharp with one eye covered, so our eye doctor, said not to use ot for activities that are active, so when he was coloring, drawing, and things that involved less movement. Ethan picked out a bright colorful one with bears on it. The first time he wore it, I got nhis brother a pirate eye patch and they were pirates for a a while, that made it easier. You did a great job with talknig to your other daughter with just her about her concerns. It is different for all family members, but it is also very common, so less people stare when out in public, it’s like when we were kids and glasses were teased about, so many kids have glasses now and can afford to have their eye problems taken care of, that this is more common now, so less teasing if you need glasses. My son also has exzema since birth, and although it is getting better with age, children were curious when he was in school, of his rash. So I explained to hte teacher and she handled any inquistive questions about it. And kids just acceot and it was forgotten quickly. With every change in life, it is hard at first, but in time it is as if it always was that way. I had a hard time with feeling bad for my son, having to get glasses in the first place, then to have his eye patched, but he is fine and we all got through it good, now it is nothing. His weak eye did improve, and his lazy eye still is a little off, but only the eye machine can notice it. His eyes are as good as they will be, and we all got through hte patching days. In time it will all be fine, so just hang in there!! You are doing a great job, Mom!!
    :) P.S. you daughter can put stickers on the plain patches, to make it more her own.

  27. by Shawchert

    On July 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I had to wear patches since i was 18 months old till i was 13 years old. I didn’t have to wear them to school, but before and after. They weren’t so bad, I had lazy eye, still do and had to have 2 surgeries, if you can get away without the surgeries be very glad about the eye patches! They are a life saver because I was told i would go blind by 18, because I wore them regularly (though I myself didn’t care too much early on cause I couldn’t see anything) I’m 27 and have …. as good eyesight as I can have, I’m not blind so that’s what matters :D .. In any case, yes make it fun for her, and she may get teased, not sugar coating that, but with family by her side I’m sure she’ll get through it well enough :)

  28. by valerie

    On July 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    patchpals.com!!! felt eye patches with a bunch of adorable designs. my daughter loves them

  29. by Laurel

    On July 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    My daughter has to wear patches too. Hers was a more longterm thing though and the doctor gave me a few websites to look on. The one I went with was PatchPals.com. I highly reccommend them. they are felt patches that slip right over the glasses. They have solid color ones and then ones with solid backgrounds but designs on them. I perchased 3—one panda, one kitty, and one that had 1,2,3,A,B,C on it. She is comfortable enough with the designed ones that she will wear the patch in public. Good luck!!

  30. by Karen

    On July 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I went through the same thing with BOTH of my sons (4 and 5 years old). I knew my 4 year old had a problem because he would cover his right eye to see something far (his right eye is 20/100 and cannot see far very well). I took my 5 year old as a precaution but suspected nothing… until the doc covered his right eye, asked Jack to read the letters and he stated, “I can’t, you are covering my eye so I can’t see them.” My heart sank. Turns out his condition was further along than my youngest and I had no idea there was even an issue. His brain “doesn’t like using his left eye because it doesn’t see as well as the right.”

    My youngest was prescribed glasses and my oldest (that is barely using his left eye) was prescribed the patching 3 hrs/day for a period of time to be determined (potentially 6 months or more). My oldest son has ADHD and has a tendency to lose his cool when things are out of his control and not as they should be, so I was very fearful of starting this therapy with him.

    I took time to explain what was happening a few days before the patches arrived. We went with Ortopads for the cool designs. The first day the whole family wore a patch. Not easy, what these little folks are expected to do. I had a headache after wearing it only an hour. The support we gave him, also gave us perspective on what he was going through. We started out with an hour the first day and then increased by 30 minute increments each day after that until we hit the three hour mark. We also got two neighborhood kids involved. They’re older and have the tendency to make fun. So I explained what was going on to them without Jack around and then offered them a cupcake (if it was ok with mom) if they would wear a patch for an hour, to support Jack. They did it! They agreed it was tough and they’ve not made fun of him at all.

    Its been two weeks and he’s doing sooooo much better than I ever could’ve imagined. He still struggles with it because its hard to use that weak eye, but he’s not embarrassed to wear it. Just yesterday we had dinner at a pizza buffet and a few kids came up to him to ask him what he was wearing over his eye. He very confidently explained what the patch was for and moved on to other conversation about kindergarten, etc.

    Every kid is different, but all of them have that tendency to surprise us! Best of luck!

  31. by Glenna Meadows

    On July 14, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    On Ebay there is a gal who sells the eye patches for kids. Her seller name is my6girls. Most of the patches are $10.99 and really cute!
    Good luck to you and your family.

  32. by Michelle

    On July 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    My nephews first began wearing glasses and patching when they were three years old. It was heartbreaking, but they got used to it. my sister had used the cotton patches that slod over the glasses, however i have a friend who now uses the stick on patches and they work great as well. Use whatever your daughter likes b/c she will eventually not want to wear them. it will be better if they are something she likes. Now, my nephews are going to be 14, and don’t even wear glasses anymore and haven’t for 3 years now. Keep up the hard and emotional work and it will hopefully pay off.

  33. by Kara Corridan

    On July 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Once again, all, I have to say thank you to all of you for sharing your own experiences and telling me what’s worked for your children. Who knew there was a whole world of fun patches out there?!

  34. by Laquanda Baute

    On November 15, 2011 at 6:40 am

    The Justin Bieber juggernaut is without question exhibiting no evidence of slowing down. Even although his debut album, My World 2.0 was published just last year, the young celebrity is going to be currently looking to his next album.

  35. by Sophia

    On January 10, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I know I am about 6 months late in my response, but we too have been down this road. We have tried the patches for the glasses but Mandy would always peek around the patch. We tried many of the brands mentioned here but we found MYI Patches worked best on Mandy’s sweating face. The others were cute but didn’t stay put. I believe someone else mentioned that it obviously depends on the individual child and their skin’s reaction to the adhesive. We found some great helpful hints on the MYI Patches website in the FAQ section to make the removal process much easier. Mandy got to pick the 3 designs she wanted in her package so I no longer had patches she would not wear (not cute enough). Good Luck all