What if my child won’t keep the patch on?

Getting children to wear eye patches can be a difficult challenge and a lot of hard work. Successful treatment mostly depends on your commitment, involvement, and ability to gain your child’s cooperation. It DOES get easier – getting started is often the hardest part. Don’t give up too soon. There are occasionally times when patching continues to be impossible and you may have to accept that one eye will always be poorer than the other. It is always reassuring to know that you have done everything you possibly can with patching before accepting this.


  • Routine (especially for little ones) is extremely important. Do not let a day go by that you do not make at least one or two patching attempts. Make an attempt, but do not persist to the point that your life or your child’s life becomes miserable. Just try again each day. The child will eventually understand that you’re not giving up. If the daily routine stops, the child has won the battle.
  • Treat any skin irritation early.
  • It may help to start slowly; high levels of patching early may induce frustration. Ask your doctor if you can gradually add an hour a day or week.
  • Use positive reinforcement and avoid negative reinforcement or power struggles. Allowing patching to become a battle is almost guaranteed to be a fight in which the child wins.
  • Use rewards.
  • Link patching with activities the child enjoys (TV, video games, etc.)
  • Try playing King or Queen for a Day; start on a weekend with adult supervision and fill the day with special privileges and attention to distract from patching.
  • Use a timer to indicate when the patch comes off. This makes the timer the ‘bad guy’, not the parent.
  • Consider having a rule that only parents or caregivers can touch the patch.
  • Try patching at school or daycare where there may be better supervision and distraction.
  • Be creative
  • Have your child help decorate patches with fabric paints, stamps, temporary tattoos, rub-on transfers, stickers, or other craft material.
  • Use the computer to print clip-art pictures directly onto patches.
  • Invent patching games.
  • Make a large reward calendar that the patch can be stuck to each day.


MORE ‘FORECEFUL’ MEASURES (discuss these with the doctor)

  • Use extra tape over the patch.
  • Use hand or arm restraints if necessary. Arm restraints allow enough arm movement for play but make it impossible to bend arms to reach face. The idea is to make the child connect the use of them with pulling off the patch. Just the reminder of the restraints often works. Remember, it is IMPORTANT to properly supervise children that are wearing any type of hand or arm restraints.
  • Hand Socks or Mittens with extra tape around the wrists
  • Inflatable Water Wings on the elbows
  • Specialized Pediatric Arm Restraint products:



  • Talk to the teacher!
  • Present Amblyopia at ‘Show and Tell’; kids are less likely to tease if they understand the reason for the patch.
  • Make any necessary adjustments if vision is poor
    • Copies of books with larger print
    • Sit front and center
    • Enlarge printouts on copy machine
    • Encourage use of a white board rather than chalkboard to enhance contrast



Another form of eye patching that is occasionally recommended involves using an opaque material on the glasses to cover the lens in front of the good eye. Unfortunately, this method makes it VERY EASY for children to peek over the glass and ‘cheat’, thus it is only good for very mild types of amblyopia or to maintain a level of vision once it is reached with regular patching. Translucent contact shelf paper and Satin Scotch tape are examples of things you can buy to cover the lens. Bangerter occlusion foils are a similar, specialized form of ‘cling’ patch for lenses. They are available in varying levels of opacity; ask your doctor or orthoptist for ordering information.





My New Eye Patch by Nancy Chernus-Mansfield, M.A.
A resource book for parents with tips to achieve successful patching
Institute for Families of Blind Children.

Apple Patty Patches by Danielle D. Crum
The story of a little girl who undergoes successful patching therapy (ages 3-8)
Useful Q&A and activity sections at the end. or

Blueberry Eyes by Monica Driscoll Beatty
The story of successful eye treatment from glasses and patching through eye muscle surgery.

Jennifer Jean, the Cross-Eyed Queen by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The story of a little girl teased about her crossing eyes and glasses



The Eye Patch Club; Prevent Blindness America
The ‘Eye Patch Club’ newsletter has tips and techniques for promoting compliance, stories from other children and parents, professional advice, a kids Page with puzzles and games, classroom Guide for teachers, Calendar and Stickers and a Pen Pal Form

ORTOPAD USA has patching reward posters, the ‘Eye Patch Kids’ DVD, ortopad puzzles, ‘My Patching Booklet and memory games.
866-ORTOPAD (678-6723),
©2008 Riecke, OC(C). This was reprinted with the permission of Jillian Riecke, CO.

Framehuggers Patching Pal Program has teddy bear patch pals and a tip guide and games.

©2008 Riecke, OC(C). This was reprinted with the permission of Jillian Riecke, CO.