If your child has a lazy eye, then a muscle imbalance within the eye socket may be the cause of the condition. Large differences in visual acuity between the eyes may be a cause as well. Thankfully, lazy eye conditions can generally be corrected as long as treatment is started early. Visual therapy is one type of treatment that can force your son or daughter's eyes to work together to track objects. This type of therapy is conducted in a clinical setting by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. If your child starts the therapy, then there are several things you should do at home to complement the treatment.
Make Sure Glasses are Worn
In most cases, your child will be provided with corrective lenses if they have a lazy eye. This helps to encourage good vision through the eye where visual acuity has been lost. With other types of therapy, the corrective lenses can improve vision over time. Unfortunately, the lazy eye must work harder to see objects clearly within the visual field, because the nerve pathways that run between the eye and the brain are not as strong. Your child may indicate that the corrective lenses are uncomfortable due to this. In some cases, it may also seem like the glasses do not offer assistance with visual acuity.
Vision will become clearer with glasses over time as visual therapy techniques strengthen the lazy eye. This means that you need to encourage your child to wear their glasses.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement techniques are a good way to encourage the use of corrective lenses. Children want to please their parents and they crave approval as well. Validating good behaviors can provide the approval and lead to increased glasses wear. Provide basic validation by stating you are proud of your child for wearing their glasses. Also, consider placing stickers on a calendar every day that your child wears their glasses for an extended period of time.
Work with your child to come up with a reward once 10, 20, or 30 stickers are placed on the calendar. Activities are great rewards, because they allow you and your child to take part in the reward together and this helps to strengthen the positive reinforcement process. Consider taking your child to the zoo, to the movies, or to an amusement park.
Make Patches Comfortable
Your visual therapist may use an eye patch during visual therapy sessions to encourage strength within the lazy eye. Your child also may need to use the patch at home for several hours a day until the lazy eye starts to track objects more effectively.
The therapist will ask you to work with your child on coloring, crafts, puzzles, and other visually intensive projects to make sure the lazy eye is getting the workout it needs. Unfortunately, some children find eye patches uncomfortable, and you should make sure that comfort is supplied so the patch is not a chore to wear.
Choosing Materials and Adding Padding
Your visual therapist will suggest either an adhesive or elastic attached patch for your child. Most parents and children prefer adhesive products because strings and other attachments are not necessary. The patch sticks in place and it may place some pressure on the eye. The fabric of the patch may also scratch the skin of the eye lid. Choose a patch made out of hypoallergenic, natural cotton to prevent this. The cotton will prevent rashes and offer breathability so that sweat does not build underneath the patch.
Once you choose the best material, consider placing two small cotton balls underneath the patch before you attach it to pad the area.
If your child has a lazy eye, then visual therapy may be the best option to correct the condition. You also need to support the therapy at home by making sure that glasses are worn and eye patches are as comfortable as possible.
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