Tuesday, 2 August 2011


Going through a Painful Patch

Sometimes we say, 'Oh, that was painful to make' because the fabric was evil, the machine misbehaving, or the pattern was tricky. But sometimes we make things that are just painful: things we didn't want to have to make, things that invite others to notice you're different.

At the optometrist yesterday for the first post-glasses check-up, her bad eye flunked. The glasses have corrected her vision in her good eye to passable but the disparity between her eyes means that information picked up by the lazy one is being disregarded by her brain and therefore her eye isn't getting stronger.

So now we need to patch six hours a day to force the bad eye to improve. The end result will hopefully be a success, but at the moment she's struggling to see at all. And asking valid (yet plaintive and heartbreaking) questions about why we're making it so that she can't see anything, and why everyone else doesn't have to wear one. Today she said she didn't want to go anywhere because she didn't want people to see her patch. For a very sensitive and easily embarrassed child, this is going to be a hard time for her. Without a doubt it's less hard for me, but I feel so sad for her and at a loss as to how to help.

The adhesive patch she wore yesterday removed skin and eyebrow hair when it was taken off so after a couple of hours of research last night I rustled up this prototype for a cloth patch. There's a couple of changes I want to make now she's had it on all day but it must be more comfortable than the adhesive one. And obviously-- pink. Parents of patchers/ those patched as a child / creative types / psychoanalysts... any advice on how I can help her?


  1. i think pink was a great way to go. and yes, it must be more comfortable, right? how could it not?

    and just a thought, might she feel more comfortable if she had a group of close friends who understood so that she could ease into wearing it around lots of people? like a celebratory slumber part or play date or something in order to ease into it? i have never had to wear a patch, or had friends that did, but i think that would make me feel better anyways.

  2. What a lovely mum to make her such a nice patch! I was a child with glasses (though, admittedly, not a patch) and it made it a million times easier having glasses with a pattern I loved (although I'm not sure I'd choose ginormous blue and purple plastic frames nowadays!), so I think the fantastic pink patch will make things a lot easier for her.

    It'll be worth it when her vision is corrected...and she probably won't even remember it when she's older!

  3. Give her a hug and love her and her 'lazy' eye (bloody hate that term!). I have a small friend, Hannah, and when she was smaller (nearly 4) it was decided that she had been missing too much of the world and needed to wear a patch. I used this tute; http://lucykatecrafts.blogspot.com/2008/02/eye-patch-tutorial.html
    and let her choose her own colours of felt and buttons etc, I made her a different one for everyday of the week (some had butterflies and one had diamonte jewels on). She still hated wearing the patch but felt a little bit cooler than the other kids at the hospital appointments :)

    A big hug for you and remember in the grand scheme of things it'll be for a short time and will make such a difference to her. I remember taking Hannah and her mum shooping a while after the patch of darkness had been lifted and Hannah declaring with such delight "look, over there, I can see cows!"

  4. When MadDad was small he too had a lazy eye and had to wear patches. it isn't and wasn't easy by any means and in the end it didn't correct his issues and he had to have an operation.

    I do not have any advice, but it is worth knowing that now 40 years after the operation only one optician has ever picked up on the fact that MadDad had an op and if it comes to this, it will be OK.

    Also remember that children can be cruel, but it is better she has this done know rather than when she is older.

  5. your handmade patch looks great! one of my sons good friends has had to wear a patch & glasses on/off for a few years {there are also two other children in his school also wearing them} i think this is a better age for it to happen at, the children in their class just seem accept it & he's not had any teasing, maybe he's just been lucky but i generally think it's less of a 'problem'with younger children, they will be curious & ask questions but then they move on & forget about it, i really hope it works for your daughter

  6. Oh, that patch is awesome!

    I think if she can pick some cute fabric (maybe take her shopping and let her pick whatever she wants that would be suitable?) and have a few that are jazzed up and look cool, she might find it easier.

    And I agree with having a party or a playdate or something. When I first lost my hair it was much easier to take baby steps into exposing the world to my baldy head. Now I'm a slaphead and proud, but increasing group size slowly to build up confidence will definitely help.

    Would it be too annoying to all wear patches in the house? No depth perception, I know, but she might not feel so weird if the rest of her family are wearing them too.

  7. I didn't wear a patch, but the same year I got glasses, a friend in my class also got them + the patch. His wasn't nearly as cute, but I don't remember anyone treating him differently. I have a vague memory of other boys borrowing it to play pirate. I'm sure her friends will be curious and then just ignore it.

  8. Poor sweetheart and poor you. I have no advice to give since the worst I had to suffer through as a kid were orthopedic shoes when everyone else had cute ones.

    I think it's awesome that you're making her something comfortable and personal. The more she "owns" it the better it will be. A friend here just had to have her baby fitted for a helmet and she got an adorable one with butterflies. She started sticking little flowers to it, too. We want our kids to be lovely and perfect and never suffer a minute. And I know she's suffering emotionally but Mia is still lovely and perfect. And her mom has her back. What more can you ask for?

  9. Ahh,
    Your post has just bought back memories of me wearing patches during infants school to help correct my lazy eye. I'd also have to wear my glasses over it (which never made them sit properly) and then I remember having to pull the bloody thing off, which left a sticky ring around my eye!! Your patch is fantastic and it removes all that pain. I know I would have loved it.
    I honestly don't remember being teased about having to wear a patch, it just became the norm to the other kids in my class and they soon got used to me wearing one. The only tears from me were when the patch was ripping off.
    Big hug to her and you and it won't be forever.

  10. what a shame! get her involved with making the patches. be patient with her. she might not too much hassle at school / nursery about it. i'm notsure my 4 year old would even notice someone wearing a patch.

  11. I love your solution to the sticky patch. She looks adorable.

    I wish I had some advice to give since my son is blind. I almost didn't leave a comment, but that patch is really stinkin' cute.

  12. Super cute patch, I love the pink.

    As someone going into the field of vision development, I know that some studies have found that patching for much less time per day (I think as little as 1 hour) with the addition of vision therapy can be as effective or more effective than patching for 6 hours per day.

    A lot of people in the states don't even know about vision therapy (maybe the awareness is better where you are). Do you have access to a developmental optometrist? In the states you can find them at covd.org and I believe the UK equivalent is babo.co.uk

  13. Even though I had my eyes tested regularly, it took until I was pushing 40 for an optician to realise that I had one short-sighted eye andone long-sighted, and that my brain had compensated by only using the info from one eye at a time. So *that* is why I was rubbish at sports - I had no 3D vision at all - but of course I didn't know, I assumed everyone saw the same as me. So it's great that this is being sorted out now - and your patches are wonderful.

  14. Thanx so much for posting this! We found out today (at our 3 year old Daughter's first eye appt. with her new glasses) that she too will have to patch her right eye for 6hrs a day. Nice to know we aren't the only ones going through this!
    - Amanda

  15. I've never written on any ones blog before but just had to comment. I think you are an absolutely amazing and wonderful mamma in doing this for your little girl. I also have a little girl who is 5, who wears glasses and who I have just found may need to have her eye patched. I know this will be so so distressing for her. I saw the pictures of your hands at the sewing machine, whilst making these patches, and I felt a whole swell of emmotions. That is what I call a labour of love. Your little girl no doubt means the world to you (as mine does) and you want this to be as easy for her as possible. What an absolute star you are! And... thank you for the tutorial on making such pretty patches for the little princesses (and princes) to wear and for making us all feel a little more 'smilier' about it!!