Many of our pediatric patients at Metrolina Eye Associates are prescribed patching as a part of their therapy. This is a common treatment for conditions such as strabismus (misaligned eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye). Patching times can vary from as little as 30 minutes up to 8 or more hours per day! Some children only need to patch for a few months, while others need patching for years. Patching can create challenges for parents and their children, so here are some tips we offer to make this process easier!
Begin by slowly introducing the patch during the first few days. Start with 30 minutes at a time, and be sure to distract your child during the time that the patch is on so that he/she will be less likely to try to remove the patch. The patching time is cumulative, so it does not all have to be completed in one single session. Also, if you miss some time during the week due to busy schedules, you can make up for this time with extra patching on the weekends! Those who are most successful with patching have the patch time integrated into their daily routine well so they do not forget. Do not get discouraged! Most children will adapt well to the patching within 1-2 weeks.
Incentives are always helpful to encourage children to patch. Make a sticker chart or offer a prize for completing patching. We have incentive posters available for purchase in our offices. When children complete their poster, they can pick a prize!
Adhesive patches are the preferred method. These patches come in many different patterns and colors. Allow your child to choose his/her favorite patch for the day! Also, patches come in different sizes. Particularly if your child is age 4 or under, be sure to purchase a smaller size patch that will be more comfortable. Ask our staff if you need assistance with determining the correct size patch. Typically, the adhesive patches are one time use because they will not stick well enough on subsequent uses.
The adhesive patches do not work well for some children due to skin sensitivity. If this is the case for your child, we recommend a cloth patch that fits over the glasses. It is very important to make sure that there are no openings that the child could look through. Any patch that you use should be flush to the face. We recommend “Patch Pals eyeglasses patch” (patchpals.com) which can be ordered online or purchased in our optical shops. Please do not use a pirate patch that has elastic. These patches do not work well because they are too easy to peek around.
If your child wears glasses, please remember to have him/her wear the glasses over the patch at all times while patching! Children who patch at school may need to be moved closer to the front of the classroom. We are happy to provide a note to the child’s teacher indicating this if needed.
Please call us at any time if you have any questions about patching! We are here to help!