Last year, for a full year, my child wore an eye patch. This was due to an acute onset of lazy eyes and cross eyes. Literally one day between 5pm and 530pm, while sitting in his highchair, his eyes crossed and they stayed that way. No trauma, no illness present, no warning signs.
Cross eyes/ lazy eyes (technically called strabismus/amblyopia) is very common in children. Because ours happened out of nowhere, were treated to emergency MRI’s and scary thoughts about tumors. All clear- Thank God. Followed up by visits to specialist out of state. In the end,- we learned his condition is quite common, however the way his presented was quite odd.
(A more common presentation would occur when a family member notices something off with their child’s eye- gradually noticing something- which then would prompt parents to visit an eye doctor.)
So, we found ourselves in the doctors office learning all about patching.
My two-year-old had an eye patch over one eye to strengthen the other the eye. For an entire year, we did daily patching for 6+ hours a day.
In an effort to make it as painless as possible, I found myself scouring the Internet for the latest and greatest technology in the patching world. Cute designs, soft materials- different size patches- some that go around the head and some that go over eyeglasses.
I bought it all, and together, me and my little buddy figured out what he liked best.
We made it a habit early on. He picked out a patch and laid it out with his clothes each day. It was part of getting dressed, like socks.
He had control and a choice over the patch and he wore it like a champ. Only occasionally ripping off his patch when he was angry about something unrelated. But, I bought so many, it didn’t make me flinch. If we wasted one, I just pulled out another and put that puppy on again.
Of course wearing a patch get lots of looks and questions. Nothing mean, mostly just curious people. “What happened to his eye?” “What’s wrong with his eye” “Are you a pirate?”
(That one I played into a bit with pirate style patches)
Those in my shoes wanted to offer guidance, other patching moms gave tips and info on the fly. ” We patch!” “We’ve patched”” This one patched” “We patched and it didn’t work” “Patching works, keep it up!”
To help with all the looks, questions and comments, I came up with the tagline. A single sentence I could say to onlookers- adults and kids alike. It helped to have it locked and loaded. My tagline helped me and our family feel less flustered and caught off guard when asked about his eye. It allowed us to acknowledge the question politely and move on. It was also an affirmation to myself.
He has something wrong with his eye and this is what we’re doing to try and fix it.
It worked, the tag line and the patching.
The patching built up enough muscle and strength for his eyes to stay straight- if only for a moment. Which meant he could now be eligible for surgery.
Surgery fixed my son’s eyes completely. He can see perfectly and his eyes look the way they were before. It was a very good outcome for us. Hard work, character building and painful at times, but we persevered. Now, his eyes and our family are stronger than before.