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Thursday 1 March 2012

Pirate Patches for a Lazy Eye

Ava has a lazy eye.

That eye's so lazy it just doesn't want to do any work. It's perfectly happy to let its partner do everything.

This lazy eye must be taught a lesson.

For about a year we've been trying to combat this problem in swashbuckling pirate style: with an eye patch.

Since we've been in Berkeley Ava's opthamologist has recommended a new method of combating the lazy eye and we're now mixing the patching with Atropine drops.

Both methods work in pretty much the same way...

The patch covers the good eye, the hardworking one that does everything, and forces the lazy eye to do some work. Ava wears a patch over her good eye for a few hours a day. This becomes a little tricky to coordinate with a busy preschool and after school activity schedule. Ava is not keen to wear the patch out of the house. Having worn a patch full time over my own lazy eye as a child I'm not keen to make her go through this either. We squeeze in an hour of patching here and there before preschool and in the afternoons.

This is where the Atropine drops come in handy. The Atropine drops dilate the pupil in Ava's good eye which results in blurred vision. Ava can still see out of this eye however it's not clear enough to focus properly so she is forced to use the lazy eye. The results of the Atropine drops are relatively long lasting and in general we can get by with using one drop every second day. At the moment we're doing both drops and patching to get the best results. Of course the drops have a down side too, that being getting the damned things into Ava's eye in the first place! We usually attempt to put the drops in while Ava is sleeping. This isn't always so easy. For someone who can sleep through the fire alarm in our apartment building, Ava is an astoundingly light sleeper when it comes to someone touching her face!

Now, no one likes wearing an eye patch (unless they're a pirate) or having drops in their eyes, so to make things a little more fun for Ava I've come up with a reward chart. I had Ava help me make the reward chart to get her excited about using it. She drew lots of pirates and lots of drops with eyes and after a touch of photoshop they were all the same size and ready for the chart.

Pirate Patches & Eye Drops
Ava's reward chart

For every day that Ava has an Atropine drop we stick a picture of a drop on the chart. For every day that Ava wears an eye patch we stick a picture of a pirate on the chart in line with the relevant number of hours. At the end of the week if Ava has reached the required number of drops and pirates on her chart she gets a little reward. This week's reward is a set of glow in the dark stars to cover her bedroom ceiling.

Ava adds a Pirate to the chart

The drop and pirate pictures for Ava's chart have velcro dots on the back. The chart is also covered in velcro dots in every possible spot that a drop or pirate can be placed. Like everything we make, the whole thing is laminated to make it stronger. I really need to buy myself a laminator instead of spending all my money at the print shop!

So far the reward chart has been working. Ava has willingly let me put the Atropine drops in her eye with hardly any problems. Usually this is a major struggle. I missed out on a drop one night this week and Ava, eager to fill the reward chart, offered to have the drop put in before preschool. This is the first time she has ever let me put in a drop during the day.

Aarrgh me hearties!

After a visit to the opthamologist last week we're using the drops every day this week but as of next week we'll be back to the regular every second day. The chart also helps me in this respect as I'm not always good at remembering which day Ava had her drops. Now all I need to do is look at the chart to help me remember.

Hooray for reward charts!

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