WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF PATCH PERFECT!
You've just discovered that your child has an eye disorder that requires a regimen of eye patching as part of the treatment program.
Of course, you are concerned. Becoming familiar with your child's condition and the treatment program will help you feel more at east. Thousands of other children are affected with the same disorder, and patching is the most common and effective treatment for it Knowing that you and your child are not alone helps.
WHY DOES MY CHILD NEED A PATCH?
Patching is most often prescribed in the treatment of amblyopia and strabismus. Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes whereby they point in different directions. Amblyopia, which is sometimes caused by strabismus, is characterized by reduced sharpness of vision.
Many parents believe that their child will outgrow amblyopia and strabismus. Unfortunately, this is not true- Left untreated, these problems can lead to permanent vision loss, so early diagnosis and treatment is necessary.
There are many treatments for amblyopia and strabismus. They include surgery, eyeglasses, medication and patching. Sometimes they are used separately and sometimes in conjunction. Your doctor has chosen to include patching as part of your child's treatment program. Patching the healthy eye helps to strengthen the weaker (amblyopia) eye by forcing the use of this eye and its associated visual system.
HOW LONG WILL MY CHILD NEED TO PATCH?
The length of treatment time is primarily dependent on the age treatment begins. As with most things, the sooner the better! But each child is different and so the treatment is tailored to his or her specific needs.
ENCOURAGING GOOD PATCHING BEHAVIOR
Patching can be stressful for both parent and child. If the child is uncomfortable wearing a patch, your job as a parent becomes all the more difficult.
With babies, a patch will not stay on unless you can keep little hands away from the patch. To do this, purchase a pair of "water wings" that are meant for keeping a baby afloat in a pool. Place them on the baby's arms as you would if they are going swimming (make sure they are blown up!) The baby will not be able to reach her face with the "water wings" on. Remember to remove the patch at night, there is no need for it then.
To encourage good patching behavior in the older child. Coverlet Eye Equalizer has included colorful stickers for children to war on their patch. These stickers make it fun for the child and are most helpful as the child approaches school age. Letting your child choose their stickers helps them to feel that they have some control in the situation. Never put a sticker on a baby's patch.
Children that feel special and not different or odd will be more likely to wear their patch. If your child is school age, let his teacher know about strabismus and amblyopia and why your child wears a patch. The teacher can then explain it to the class, perhaps inviting the class to become involved in helping your child to choose a sticker. Once you have established that patching can be fun, it will cease to be a chore for you and your child. It is also important that your child not be excluded from an activity, but be encouraged to participate even in things that may pose a measure of difficulty. Encouragement is the key. An effective outcome depends on following the patching program. You are your child's most important partner.
A common complaint is minor skin irritation under the patch. Here are some tips to prevent and treat minor irritations.
•Give the skin a "breather" - Don't leave the patch on at night.
•Alternate between the Junior and Regular size patch.
•Reverse the position of the patch on the eye.
•At night when the patch is off, soothe the area with a hypoallergenic moisturizing cream or ointment (avoid getting the cream into the eye).
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO HELP MY CHILD
Many parents wonder if there are exercises that the child can do to shorten the treatment period. Anything that is visually challenging is helpful Look for games or crafts where attention to detail is important. Board games and cards are good for the older child as are video games. If a child is just learning to read, let them circle letters in an old magazine or newspaper. Make a game out of it. For example, circle all the a's in one column and b's in the next. The most important thing you can do for your child is to insist that he or she follow the treatment through, being as supportive and loving as possible.
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