Monday, January 23, 2012

Adventures in Amblyopia: Part Three

Sorry I missed last week.  We made a quick, last minute trip to visit my parents and grandparents in Texas.  I kept thinking all weekend long about how I was missing my Amblyopia post!

Anyway, on with the show!!
If you'd like, you can start at the beginning with the first post here.
Or, jump in with the second post here.

Shortly after beginning our experience with Brychan in glasses, our PO (pediatric opthamologist) recommended that we start patching.

So, what is patching? Patching helps by training the brain to use the eye with weaker vision by completely covering the stronger eye. This allows vision to develop normally in the weak eye.

I was a little weary of patching at first.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy, and I was worried about comments we would get from other people.  

Luckily, though, we started out patching just two hours a day, seven days a week.  We could pick any two hour time frame we wanted.  And no. It was not an easy thing to get used to!  My son hated it.  We started with stick-on patches.  Doesn't he just look miserable?
In order to help support and encourage my son, I would wear a patch with him.  I hated it just as much as he did!  It gave me horrible headaches and was just uncomfortable.  And taking it off kind of hurt too!  Imagine a big band-aid ripping off your eyebrows...
But we both kept plugging along. There were lots of sticker charts and bribes used to get him to keep his patch on.  We started off with just 20 minutes a day and eventually worked our way up to the 2 hours.

Eventually, we found these cute patches that slip over the child's glasses.  He picked out 3 of them that he really liked (a puppy, train and one with balls on it) and we placed our order.  You have to be really careful in using the patches that slip over the glasses, because if there is any open space whatsoever, your child will use that opening to look through, making the patching pointless.
Obviously, these patches work much better!

I put these photos on Facebook that first summer.  
It was the first time that I allowed my son to be "seen" publicly with his patch on.  
I was so nervous about it, but you know what?  It was totally fine.  No rude comments. In fact, nothing about comments about how cute and happy he looked.
As a mom, sometimes I just need to get over my "momma bear" complex and realize that it will be okay.

We have done patching off and on.  We are currently patching again...still just 2 hours a day 7 days a week.   Little brother gets really jealous that he doesn't have a patch! 
Every once in awhile, I will give Brychan eye drops that do the same thing as patching (they are actually the meds that the doctor uses to dilate the eyes during exams).  

I do this for a couple of reasons. 

 #1: When he's wearing his patch, he tends to not want to do anything but watch TV.  Which, in all honesty, is usually okay with me because he has to wear the patch to avoid surgery.  I'll take whatever I can get.  But, when I use the drops, the effect lasts all day long, so he ends up using that weaker eye for much more than just vegging in front of the television.

#2: The drops last all day rather than just the 2 hours.  I feel like it helps make up for days that we don't quite get our full (or any!) 2 hours of patching in.

It does have side-effects though.  When we first tried the drops (when Brychan was 2) we noticed that he had sleep terrors.  Our PO warned us that those side effects may take place, so it wasn't a surprise. The sleep terrors were nothing new to him; he had had them for awhile.  But we noticed that with the drops, they were regular and more severe.  We stopped them immediately.

Now that he's older, he gets really crabby and defiant when he uses the drops. I'm more willing to deal with crabbiness than sleep terrors (which equals sleep deprivation for mom and dad).  But that is still a huge reason why we only use the drops occasionally. 

I'm curious to know...have any of you had to deal with patching?
Any great tips or tricks?
Until next Monday...have a great week!


Daysha said...

We are patching 4-6 hrs every day (or 1/2 of his awake time). Denton is 11 months old, 1 1/2 mth post cataract surgery and been in glasses for 3 weeks. Tips, none really. We just have to keep him entertained, hands busy and distracted. But it is a CHORE!

Jenna said...

My 2.5yo daughter has been patching full time for the last three months and it was hard to start with (made me so sad to hear her say 'Kaylee cant see' :( ) but she soon kind of accepted it. Now we still have arguments but she knows that the patch is for helping her eyes. We did sticker charts and also lollipop rewards at the start. I also made all her cloth patchs and she is now helping me pick fabrics and colours for them - had some lovely supportive comments from her specialist yesterday regarding her home-made patch which made me so happy. her eyesight has improved dramatically in the last three months with using the patch so we are super happy about that and she is now down to half day patching :)

Jenna said...

i have some pics so far on my blog, but also need to add more. esp some from her appoint yesterday and also of her different patches - would love you to come over and have a look sometime :D
x Jenna

Greg said...

I'm not here to confuse you, but I think you might be interested in our report on amblyopia. It has some links to research you might find very interesting - it shows the patching works best in conjunction with vision therapy. Here's the link:


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