Despite there being lots of very fancy medical technology around, optometrists will still in some cases recommend simple eye patches to be worn. This can, especially with children, be extremely useful in correcting vision.
Why wear an eye patch?
The most common reason for an eye patch to be worn is amblyopia, more commonly known as lazy eye. There are many different types of amblyopia, the most frequent being strabismus, which is caused by a squint, and anisometropia which is caused by refractive problems in the eye. In both cases, the brain receives signals of different quality from each eye and so chooses to receive primarily the information from only one eye. This means the other eye, the lazy eye, does not develop as well, meaning it offers worse vision.
Amblyopia is fairly common, with roughly one in twenty-five children experiencing it. The earlier it is found, the easier it is to treat, but if it is detected too late, it can cause permanent issues. Wearing an eye patch over the good eye forces the lazy eye to work, and therefore get stronger.
When should it be worn?
As a general rule, an eye patch should be worn every day for a certain number of hours. The number depends on the case; an optometrist will tell you how many. It is important to remember that the person wearing the eye patch is not sleeping during these hours as it will not do anything to help the eye.
With children, there can often be some reluctance about wearing an eye patch for many reasons. They may find it uncomfortable, or feel self-conscious while wearing it, especially at school. If the eye patch is worn at school, it should be noted that it can be harder to monitor whether the child is keeping it on.
There are some ways around this. Some parents reward their children for keeping the patch on for a period of time of time, or let them wear it while doing fun activities. Letting them wear it during screen time can be especially effective, as watching television or playing computer games requires constant focus.
What eye patch is best?
As long as it blocks out the light and stays on, any eye patch will do. The recommended ones have an adhesive border, like a plaster, and stick on. These are often disposable, which means that there is less worry about keeping the eye patch clean. In rare cases, a child can have a reaction to the adhesive. If this happens, a patch of cloth can be used instead, or alternatively, some lotions can reduce the direct contact between the adhesive border and the child’s skin.
How long will it need to be worn for?
Again, it depends on the case. Some people will see a noticeable difference after just a few weeks, but for some, it will take longer. It is important not to stop wearing it until your optometrists say to, though, even if you do notice an improvement.