Saturday, July 11, 2009

How to make an eye patch for Amblyopia or Strabismus

 Every parent of a child that has to wear an eye patch as vision therapy knows how much of a pain adhesive patches can be, let alone expensive. My daughter has to patch for six hours a day to make her amblyopic eye stronger. It has been a few months of trial and error to figure out a patch that she will actually wear. This is the solution that we came up with, and it just so happens to be the easiest and cheapest.

This is a no-sew eye patch that connects to a pair of glasses that have a nose piece. You will need one sheet of 2mm craft foam, a pen, a pair of scissors, and a small hole punch (optional).

I could give you the template for our patches, but chances are, they probably won't fit your face. Every face is different, and a slightly different shape may be more effective for you. You can practice the shape you need with a sheet of paper before you cut into your foam. I laid the glasses out and kind of traced around where I thought the patch should be. Keep in mind the following: if it's too big around the nose, the patch will make the glasses slip down the face. We put a little bump around the bridge of the glasses to keep the wearer from peeking. Form it around the cheek so it doesn't dig in, and bring the top up high enough that if the glasses do slip down a bit, the wearer can't peek above it. It's better to make the patch too big and then trim it down, than to make it too small to start with.
Trace all the patches onto the foam sheet and then cut them out. I can fit 15 on a sheet. Let's do some math here. One sheet of craft foam is $.75. It makes 15 reusable patches. Adhesive one-time-use patches cost $4.35 for 20. So, do you pay $.5 a patch, or do you pay $.21 a patch? Duh.
UPDATE 12/09: I found craft foam in big packages with lots of colors at the dollar store. This would make these even CHEAPER, if you can imagine that.
You can see above that now and again my daughter will get fed up with her patch and rip the thing off. She is three. I expect it. These are so cheap and easy that I don't care. The next step is to punch the holes. you need one at the back to thread the ear piece through, and two at the nose to thread the nose piece through. Then cut a slit with the scissors, connecting the dots on the nose. Punching the hole will prevent the foam from tearing as easy, making a stopping place for it.
If you don't have a small hole punch, you have a few options. You can cut just a slit on the nose and an X in the back, but that will lead more often to tears in the foam.You can also use a larger hole punch and overlap the holes on the nose.
These are really easy to decorate with stickers. I have also sewn a layer of fabric on top of the patch to dress it up a bit. They also take well to drawings and doodles.


hellokittiemama said...

I love this!!! Thanks for posting it!!!


Unknown said...

You are awesome! I'm telling all my patients to visit you site and all the docs I know too! Dominick M. Maino, OD, MEd

Dr. Dominick Miano said...

I should have mentioned that with your interested in strabismus and amblyopia you might want to visit I usually post the lastest research in children's vision here.

Anonymous said...

We have purchased numerous patches for our daughters eye - only to have them lost. At $6 each this is getting crazy expensive. I have tried to figure out how to make one - but it is always easier just to buy another one. Your idea is simple and wonderful. I thank you so much for posting this for others of us who have children who need to patch. THANK YOU

Anonymous said...

this was a lifesaver for me. we just started patching yesterday and the first day with adhesive patches (and drops) was a disaster. Day 2 has been so much better thanks to your idea. Thank you!!

Christie Cottage said...

What a wonderully, fun eye patch!


Anonymous said...

This is wonderful for those who have a child who wears glasses, but my daughter has good vision other than her intermittent strabismus, sny suggestions?o I would like to find a patch that doesn't require glasses besides the expensive throw away adhesive ones. I can never get them positioned quite right and she hates when they are pulled off! He latest prescription is patching her right eye 1 hour/day 6 days/week. A

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the detailed instructions!

We were just told we need to start patching (1hr/day). My daughter does not wear glasses now and can not use latex.

We bought a cheap pair of kid's sunglasses to start her with and I was trying to figure out how to build a patch for them.

They don't have a nosepiece though so this pattern doesn't work for those. I am going to pick up some $9 frames at Walmart (back to school sale). They said I can buy the frames without lenses! We will make foam patches and she can decorate them with stickers :)

Jamie said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial and idea. My 7 year old was told this week he needs to start patching. I made him a foam one using your tutorials last night and he thought it was cool I let him color it. He was even excited to wake up and wear his patch before school! Now we plan on getting some transformers stickers to decorate and make it cool for him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information! We just found out on Friday that my daughter needs to patch all but 2 to 3 hours a day. Today was her first day at school with the patch. By the time she got home the stick-on version was gone ("... but Mom, it was loose!"). I think your version will work much better!

Along with the foam, I also picked up some felt to see how it would do. It works great - my daughter has it on now. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

This is simple and easy, but my concern is for absorption. My son usually has a weepy/sweaty eye under his patch and I am looking for something that will naturally absorb that (like wool felt).
My main concern here is that the chemicals used in making craft foam (chemicals you can even smell)are not good close to the eye.
This is a clever idea, but I don't think it is safe, I wouldn't recommend it for children or people who may have sensitive eyes.

Paula -- CutieFruity said...

In response to the above comment, it is a choice for each parent and child. I have not found that the patch has damaged my child's skin or eye in any way. Yes, it can get a tad sweaty in the heat of summer. Thanks for the heads up to those that may have sensitivities to plastics or latex (I don't know if that is in craft foam, but it is worth checking out if there is a predisposition).

Anonymous said...

You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

Emily said...

Since my daughter keeps conveniently "losing" her nice patches, we're going to give this a try. She is very excited to decorate her patches. Thanks so much for sharing this great idea. I never would have thought of it.

Roberta said...

Thanks for the idea! I was just told that my 7 year old daughter needs to patch for 6 weeks, and she loathes these adhesive ones. She sweats or cries and they come right off. And there was much crying when she saw them on her eye. Ugh. I will try this for sure. Anything to make this easier for her (and me!).

Anonymous said...

What a cute idea! I just found out we need to patch my son and found your blog doing a goggle search. I love how simple and interactive this is. I think my little guy is going to have fun helping me create his patches, and I have a feeling I am going to need all the help I can get!

We also homeschool- but that is neither here nor there!

Anonymous said...

awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks. lina holzbauer

Jill T said...

Thanks for this. Unlike everybody else I do not need the patch for a child but for my 57 year old self! I'm waiting for an eye op but the distortion I'm getting in my left eye is distracting and I've been unable to find a suitable patch to wear with my specs. I've used a soft black felt and it works brilliantly. I'll see what they say in the office in the morning - will probably cause some amusement.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this idea and the input. I was making the patch for my mom, who wears glasses. It worked perfectly with some refinements!

Unknown said...

Thank You SO much for Your brilliant idea!!
My son i 14 now, he has been tortured by migraenes since he was 5 years old.
We just randomly fell over Your blog, I wish We had foundation You back in 2009 when You posted this.
Well better late than never ;)
My son is Very happy now, what a relief :)
I was amazed at how easy it was to make!! I don't have any foam laying around, so I tried with 2 layers of felt. It works Great for now. I'll go get some foam tomorrow ;*
And now Your eye patches has made it to our little country Denmark ;)
Thanks again :)g

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