How you can help your child wear an eye patch for amblyopia
Help your child understand why the patch is needed.
Reward, support, and reassure your child. This will help your child comply with
the patching treatment so that he or she can develop the best vision possible.
Here are some of the things you can do to help your child wear
the patch and to help make the treatment more effective.
The more your child and the
people around him or her know about the patching as a treatment for
amblyopia, the more successful the treatment is likely to be.
Talk to your child before treatment begins.
Explain that the patch is needed to help make vision in the affected eye
Explain to family and friends why your child is wearing
the patch and how important it is that the patch stays on. Ask them to be
supportive. Offer suggestions on ways they can help make the treatment
If your child is in day care or school, talk with his
or her caregivers and teachers. Often they will be glad to explain to your
child's peers and classmates why he or she is wearing the patch and how they
can help your child's treatment be successful. This can help your child feel
more comfortable about wearing the patch at day care or in school.
Set clear ground rules
Set clear guidelines and
establish realistic expectations for wearing the patch. These will help you and your child avoid a power struggle or a
battle of wills over wearing the patch. Your child will probably do better if he
or she understands when and how long the patch must be worn.
Your doctor will tell you when your child
must wear the patch and for how long. Explain the schedule to your child, and
stay on it.
Make it clear what the consequences will be if he or
she removes the patch. And tell your child about the rewards for keeping the patch on without
complaints or difficulties.
You may wish to set up a rule that
only parents (or caregivers and teachers) can touch the patch when it is on.
If your child is to wear the patch only part of the time, use a
clock or a timer to mark when the patch is put on—and when it can come off.
This will give your child some well-defined limits and can also help avoid
making you the "bad guy" for making sure the patch stays on for the required
Use a day planner or a calendar to show your child when and
how long to wear the patch and to keep track of his or her progress. Let your
child mark each time a patching session is completed. This can provide a visual
"map" of the treatment and how much of it he or she has accomplished.
Wearing a patch can be difficult and
uncomfortable. By giving support and reassurance, you can help your child
comply with the patching treatment.
Amblyopia is commonly called "lazy eye."
Reassure your child that despite the nickname, an eye with amblyopia is not
actually lazy and that he or she has not done anything wrong. A child with
amblyopia may not even know that he or she is using only one eye. Ignoring the
image from the weak eye is the brain's unconscious response, not the child's
decision. Your child has no control over this process.
the times when your child will wear the patch. It may be possible to wear the
patch only at home. Then your child can avoid any hurtful comments or teasing
that may happen because of the patch.
Consider giving rewards
when your child wears the patch without complaints or difficulties. You can use
a day planner or a calendar to show your child's progress toward the reward.
Encourage support from family, friends, and classmates. Offer
suggestions on ways they can help make the treatment successful.
Other children might make fun of a child who has to wear a patch
over one eye. Comfort your child. And remind him or her why it is important to
keep the patch on.
Try to have some fun
Wearing an eye patch is not
enjoyable. But there are some things you can do to make the times your
child is wearing the patch more fun and to help make the treatment more
Spend time with your child just after the
patch is put on. It takes a short time—about 10 or 15 minutes—for the brain to
adjust to having the dominant eye covered. Doing something fun during this time
can make the transition easier.
Give your child as much one-on-one
attention as possible while he or she is wearing the patch. Your child will
enjoy the time you spend together, and this will help take his or her mind off
the patch. Try to find games and activities that capture your child's attention
and make the affected eye work harder.
If your child is wearing
adhesive-type patches, let him or her decorate them. Check with your doctor to
see if crayons, markers, stickers, or other kinds of decorations are acceptable
and how to apply them. Decorating a patch can make your child feel better about
wearing it, especially when he or she finds that family, friends, and
classmates like the decorations too. Be careful not to put any decorations on
the side of the patch that faces the eye.
Make the weak eye work
Patching treatment for
amblyopia will be more effective if your child's weak eye has to work harder
while the normal eye is patched. Games and activities that require visual
acuity and eye-hand coordination work well.
Start with simple activities. At first, your
child's coordination may not be good because the brain is still learning how to
use the weaker eye. Easy activities will help build your child's confidence.
Coloring books, paint books, and crafts such as cutting and
pasting are all fun activities that require good eye-hand coordination.
Tossing beanbags or small balls (such as ping-pong balls) into
buckets or other containers can be a fun and challenging activity. Keep in mind
that with one eye patched, your child's depth perception will be reduced, and
he or she may have some difficulty with toss games.
and reading require close visual attention. Even if your child is not reading
yet, looking at the pictures in children's books is a good way to make the
weak eye work during patching. Spend time reading and looking at books with
your child. Have your child look at the details of the pictures. If he or
she is learning to read, help the child work through the text.
Help reduce irritation
Patches may irritate the
skin around the eye and may cause a light rash. Patches on elastic bands may
rub because they move more freely than adhesive patches. Adhesive patches are
preferred because they cover the normal eye more completely. But adhesive
patches may also irritate the skin. Talk to your doctor if your child gets
an irritation or skin rash.
Try using a hypoallergenic adhesive patch,
which is less likely to cause irritation.
Skin ointments or
lotions can be used on the skin when the patch is removed to help reduce
irritation. Other ointments can help reduce irritation when the adhesive is on
If the skin under the adhesive part of the patch has
become irritated, the next time a patch is put on, try covering an area around
the eye that is larger than the patch with gauze attached to the face with
medical tape. Then attach the patch to the gauze.
Try trimming away
some of the adhesive part of the patch, so that there is less of it to touch
the skin. But make sure that the normal eye is still completely covered and
that the patch will stay in place.
Try a patch that can be
attached to glasses. These patches help avoid skin irritation and can provide
good coverage over the eye. The glasses frame will probably need to have a
panel that blocks side vision so that the child cannot try to see around the
Primary Medical Reviewer
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.