Perhaps you've seen a young child wearing an eye patch and wondered why, or maybe your child has been to the ophthalmologist, and the doctor's orders include treatment with an eye patch. If so, you may have questions. We turned to two top ophthalmologists (who are also moms) for the lowdown on why kids wear patches and how to make the treatment easier.
Why Wear a Patch?"Amblyopia is the most common reason for a child to wear an eye patch," says Lauren S. Blieden, M.D., a cornea specialist and comprehensive ophthalmologist at the Robert Cizik Eye Clinic and assistant clinical professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. In order for a child's visual system to develop properly, both eyes must work with the brain in a certain way. When someone has amblyopia, one eye doesn't see well. "If the brain gets a fuzzy image from one eye it will turn off the signal from that eye," says Dr. Blieden. Over time, without treatment, the vision in that eye can be lost permanently. "We patch the good eye to 'work out' or strengthen the bad eye. I tell kids that it's like doing pushups for the bad eye," she says.
Patching PointersThe pro of patching is that it can be an effective treatment for a condition such as amblyopia. The downside: "Kids hate to wear patches because covering their 'good' eye goes against their instinct to see well," says Dr. Blieden. But with this type of treatment, you may be your child's strongest asset. "Often the best predictor of how well a child is going to do with wearing a patch is her parents," says Dr. Blieden. More involved parents tend to correlate to more successful patching. Try these tips with your child.
Finally, keep a positive attitude and remember that it will get easier. "Usually, once the child starts to see better, she becomes less resistant to the patch," says Dr. Blieden. And, of course, a lifetime of better vision is certainly worth the effort.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.