Eye Patches and Amblyopia

Updated on April 22, 2008
C.W. asks from Circle Pines, MN
22 answers

My 4 year old daughter just got diagnosed with amblyopia and was prescribed glasses. The Pediatric Optomitrist we saw does not believe in eye patches, just glasses, but my husband and I found some information online that suggests eye patching. We have ordered glasses for my daughter, she gets fitted for them today, but if we can help strengthen her eyes and maybe one day eliminate the glasses we feel we should look into this. Anyone else have a children with this condition and can offer any advice or suggestions? Appreciate any/all comments! Cheers--C.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to all the moms who responded! I got such great advice, recommendations on pediatric opthamologists, and websites and information on types of patches and where to purchase! I have scheduled an appointment at the U of M with a doctor that was recommended and feel very positive that patching could help my daughter! Thank you all again for taking time out of your busy life to help another mom out! Cheers--C.

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answers from Sioux Falls on

I would suggest going to an opthamologist and getting a second opinion. An optometrist mainly works with corrective lenses, whereas the opthamologist works with eye disorders as well. Just a suggestion. If you have unanswered questions always get more input and a professional is best if you can afford to do so.
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answers from Minneapolis on

We have had a lot of success with patching. If you consider another opinion you may want to try the pediatric opthamalogists at the Fairview University of Minnesota Children's Hospital. They are OUTSTANDING.

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answers from Dubuque on

I agree on getting a second opinion. I'm a physical therapist and know that by training muscles, you can see results. If you make the muscles of the one eye work by using a patch on the other, I would think it would help to train the muscles. Hey just out of curiosity--who did you take them to because I have to take both my girls to see an opthamologist in May, they are 2 1/2 and 1.



answers from Rapid City on

I agree, you have some excellent advice given already. I just wanted to offer a little bit of support. My son has worn glasses from the time he was 6 months old. He used to tilt his head to one side (which we thought was cute) but it was in an attempt to get a better look. Once he was fitted with glasses he left them on, because he could see!

He used to wear patches on his good eye too, but he's 20 years old, and technology has changed so much since then! I wish you luck.



answers from Madison on

My son was diagnosed with amblyopia in one eye when he was 7--since his other eye was 20/20, we didn't catch it until it was almost too late. We started with glasses, and moved on to patching 6-8 hours a day after six weeks. After three months of patching we are down to 2-4 hours a day and his vision has improved to 20/40 with correction. We started at about 20/100. So there has been a great deal of improvement. I would definitely push for patching, or get a second opinion from another doctor. G.



answers from Wausau on

Hi C.,
I would recommend patching the "good" or unaffected eye. My oldest son was diagnosed with the same condition at age 5 & his affected eye was so severe, he was legally blind in that eye. By patching the strong eye, for short periods in the beginning, leading up to longer periods, it allows the affected or weak eye to see better & get stronger. It really worked well! My little boy would play pirate when he wore the patch. It is good to do activities such as puzzles and coloring with the strong eye patched. This really strengthens the affected eye. He wore the patch (not continuously, but for periods each day) over several years. He never got to the point where he didn't have to wear glasses, but his affected eye is tons improved. He is 13 years old today and wears a contact lens in only the affected eye. It works well for him.
Good luck to you!~ C., mother of 4.



answers from Minneapolis on

I was diagnosed with amblyopia in kindergarten and the eye doctor told my parents that nothing needed to be done. He said I simply had two different eyes, and as long as I could see perfectly out of one, we didn't need to worry about the other one. My eyes then were 20/20 and 20/30.
My eyes now are 20/20 and 20/100!
My bad eye got progressively worse as my brain ignores it's input. If I had been patched, this would not have happened.
So I would say DO patch. Find a doctor who understands this.
By the way, in 3rd grade I patched my own eye after reading in my health class that it would help. My parents then took me to "the best" eye doctor in MPLS, who said I was too old to patch - that it wouldn't help.
I am still angry that the opportunity was missed for me. Your daughter is only 4 - don't let your chance go by.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hello There! I just wanted to say that myself and my son have been treated for this amongst other eye stuff. Can I first ask is it one eye both eyes that you are dealing with? We both had one eye that was having trouble and we had to patch the good eye to strengthen the one that was having trouble. We both also needed to wear glasses during that time and we still need glasses. I do think that it helped us both. I hope that helps have a great day and Good Luck!



answers from Grand Forks on

Hi C.,
I have a son who also was diagnosed with amblyopia at age 5, the summer before entering kindergarten. His right eye was 20/20, but left was 20/40, when diagnosed. Our optomitrist did prescibe glasses at first, then after several months with no improvement, patching as well. I was hesitant about the patching because I didn't want to send him to school with a patch on one eye. Kids always notice if someone is a little different, so was concerned about teasing or alienating him. Our optomitrist wanted to see him every 3-4 months. After some time, he informed us that it is also as effective to patch only for a couple of hours a day, say in the evening when watching tv, coloring, or reading a book. We were not consistent, but did do it as much as possible. After about a year with little improvement, we received a prescription from our optomitrist for eye drops that would dialate the pupil and make things blurry in the good eye. This was an alternative option to the patching. We were consistent for a couple of months and then became laxed on this treatment as well. My son is now going to be 7 in one month and just had an eye exam a week ago. I was so excited to find out that his bad eye has in fact, corrected to 20/25. He no longer needs to wear glasses or treatments. So, I do believe in the treatments, even though we were not consistent, but it may be a combination of things, including maybe growing out of it as well?????

I wish you the best of luck with your daughter's condition and hope this helps you.



answers from Cedar Rapids on

I have known children who wear wore a patch, or patches on both eyes or patch and glasses but never just glasses.

Do get a second opion from a specialst please,




answers from Green Bay on

Hi C.:
My son was diagnosed with the same condition at about 3 yrs old. From what I understand (and I will double check - my family are in the optical business) the RX in the glasses makes that one weak eye work HARDER to focus, thus making that eye eventually stronger. It does not make it easier for the child to see. So the glasses don't correct the vision, they do the same job as the patch. And when the eye has corrected itself, she should be able to get rid of the glasses as long as there are no other vision concerns. We eventually chose to go with glasses because DH and I both wear them and we thought DS would want to "be big like mom and dad". In our case, the glasses were no big deal. He thought he was big and didn't mess with them or fight to not wear them. They corrected the problem and we were able to do w/o them for a bit until genetics kicked in and he started to become nearsighted like his parents. I'm gonna add my two cents worth here and you can take it for what it's worth: Be careful how YOU react to her new glasses. My mom, an optician, says she has had SO moms cry and carry on when their little ones are first fitted with glasses. I am NOT implying that you are one of these moms! I'm just saying please be sure to tell her she looks pretty in her new glasses. She might be more likely to want to wear them. I hope I didn't ruffle any feathers. This is just something I feel strongly about! Good luck and take care,




answers from Milwaukee on

Hi C.,

My daughter (5 years old) was also diagnosed with amblyopia about 3 1/2- 4 years of age and wears glasses. Her amblyopia was not improving until we started patching her strong eye. Since doing that we have had great results, but it is a little slow going. We started just with glasses and then tried patching. She was very uncooperative and we asked for alternative so the doctor recommended drops that would blur her strong eye and make her weaker eye work harder. When we started doing this her eyes regressed. We then went back to patching and worked really hard through her resistance and it did get easier. As a result her eye has really improved. There is a company called ORTOPAD and you can order patches online. They also have a little "slip" that you can put right over the glasses to patch the stronger eye. My daughter really likes this but you have to monitor it to make sure it is really covering the eye. Let your doctor know how you feel and if he still isn't willing to patch maybe you should get a second opinion. Hang in there!



answers from Omaha on

Hi, I have had a lazy/wandering eye all my life. I would recommend getting a second opinion on the patching. We caught mine a little late, 7-8 years old and I did wear the patch, but I think if I would have worn it earlier I would use my left eye much more. I am 38 now and I primarily use my right eye. I learned how to control my left eye from wandering, but I really would like to use it more. I just don't want you to wait. Catching it early and getting the weak eye to be used is very important, that is why I would recommend the patch. Just my opinion.
When my twin sons were born 9 weeks premature they had retinopathy of prematurity and we saw Dr. Robert Troia and Dr. Sebastian Troia at Pediatric Ophthalmology Associates ###-###-####. They are located by Westroads Mall. They were very good to us and we had to visit them often for the first few months of the boys lives. Just a suggestion for getting a second opinion.



answers from Sheboygan on

You have some really great advice already, and I will just add to it- I would go to a MEDICAL eye doctor and talk to them and yes, the glasses do make the one eye work harder.
Our eye doctor had my daughter get glasses with a stronger prescription in one eye to make it work harder AND patch her weak eye one hour a day. For us, it was to put cloudy tape on the lense of her left eye (weaker side) and have her look at a book or even watch tv. Something so her eye had to focus in on one area. We did this for a year and have seen LARGE improvements in her eyes.



answers from Des Moines on

I, too, would go to an ophthalmologist for a second opinion. When you patch an eye, you don't do it all the time but only an hour or so a day. I'm pretty sure it's done to make that weak eye work all on its own to focus. Unless the vision is much worse in the lazy eye so the prescription is stronger, I'm not sure it would help much to never have to patch the good eye.
B. H



answers from Minneapolis on

My son has amblyopia too, and he did have an eye patch. The thing is, I think there are a lot of different kinds of amblyopia. My son's version is the kind where you could never see a difference between the two eyes, and that doesn't need surgery, and that he will never outgrow.

You should see Dr. Christensen at the U -- he's an expert on pediatric opthalmology and amblyopia. He has been great.

Oh, and if you need a patch, there is the felt kind that slips over your glasses in addition to the stick-on kind. My son HATED the stick-on ones and would rip them off instantly. The felt ones that slid onto his glasses worked great. Glasses Menagerie in Uptown has them.



answers from Sioux Falls on

My daughter had surgery at 10 months for bilateral strabismus ~ not exactly the same thing, but perhaps similar? (and her surgery was a huge success - PHEW!). In talking with other people who's children had the same condition, one thing I gathered was to not be afraid to get a second opinion! We went through a pediatric opthamologist, who is the expert in this area and were very comfortable with him. One lady I know has a son who has had 3 such surgeries after trying glasses as recommended by a local optometrist. After seeing a specialist, s/he said to get the glasses off of him immediately ~ it was making his condition worse. Obviously this is an entirely different situation and I wouldn't listen to anyone's advice but the doctor's and preferably a pediatric specialist. But since you do have concerns, I wouldn't hesitate to get a second opinion. I have heard a lot of stories now about people losing sight in one eye from not treating it properly and early, so this isn't something you want to just "sit on" (not to scare you though!). Good luck!



answers from Rapid City on

I don't know what amblyopia is, but for eye strengthening, you might look into "Yoga for Your Eyes" by Meir Schneider. A man cured himself from blindness doing these exercises - they are recommended for curing all sorts of vision problems.



answers from Minneapolis on

I was diagnosed with this when I was young. I wore an eye patch for quite a while. I was older than your daughter and they felt they had waited too long as it really did not help too much. However, the fact that it was not considered at all and the fact that you are talking about eyes (pretty important) I would seek a second opinion. It never hurts!



answers from Minneapolis on

I would also recommend the pediatric opthamologists at the U (we see Dr. Anderson, although for a different condition). It can be tough to get in, but they also travel to some clinics in the suburbs which are easier to get into.



answers from Milwaukee on

Hi! My younger brother had amblyopia as a 3 year-old little boy. He's now 23 years old. My parents debated for 2 years deciding what the best thing to do for him was. I know that he wore eye patches and glasses (eye patch obviously on the good eye to stengthen his weak eye).

What my parents contemplated over was eye surgery to tighten or strengthen the eye muscles. The odds were if he didn't get the surgery he could become blind and the chances of having the surgery also could end in being blind or improving his sight. Throughout his elementary school years he didn't have the patch, but did wear glasses. From middle school until now he's not even needed glasses and sees wonderfully.

If you'd like me to ask my parents more about his situation, I'd be more than happy too. I know that his situation was quite bad because if he'd look at you only one eye could focus on the person/object, while the other one was completely off. Don't know your daughters situation, but hope that I helped. Let me know if you'd like more information, I'm unsure of how common amblyopia is.




answers from Appleton on

Hi C.,
My son has worn glasses since he was 2 1/2. I don't know if the technical name for what he has is Amblyopia. His iris or cornia, I can't remember which, didn't develop as quickly, so his vision is very poor. He also has a stigmatism in both eyes. We figured out something was wrong when his eyes would cross when he was focusing on something. His left eye is weaker and tries to let the right do all the work which makes it grow lazy. This is something he will grow out of, but only if we make the left eye work. My son goes to a pediatric eye specialist. When his vision is not the same for both eyes (with glasses), he wears a patch for 2 hours a day. He is required to do at least 1/2 of it making his eye work hard like playing computer games or coloring. His doctor suggested a Gameboy. We have seen real results. He gets his eyes checked every 7 weeks. He wore a patch when he first got glasses for about a year. Then we were able to take a break, but he went down hill and we have been back to patching for about 9 months. The glasses do fix his crossed eyes, even if the right eye is doing more of the work.
You may want to find a second opinion if you are not confident in you doctor's decision. I know pediatric eye specialists are far and few between.
By the way, we found since we never let our son go without glasses, he always wants to wear them. Now we never have to fight with him to wear them.
Good luck!

M. - I have a 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter. My husband and I own our own business, so lucky for us, the kids always have one of us home with them.

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