Thursday, May 21, 2009

Review: Dr Patch "cling" patch for Amblyopia

Like most of the eye patches that we have tried, Dr. Patch is an "eye patch solution" developed by a Mother of a child who needed patching (for Strabismus). She developed it with the idea that it needed to be both aesthetic and efficient.

The concept of Dr. Patch is a re-usable film, kind of like contact paper that you cut out and stick to the actual lens. It is sold in a kit - with instructions, the designs, cling film, and a glossy bookmark (to store patches on betweeen use). The "kit" comes in 2 varieties: "Frisky" (fun kid-inspired graphics) or "Designer" (funky patterns) with 6 patterns each for $19.99. Depending on the size of your lens is how many patches you will get from the kit - larger lenses would be 1 per pattern block - smaller lenses (like my daughters) will yield 2 patches per pattern.

Our Dr. Patch Experience:
Belle received the "Frisky" pattern set which are brightly colored animal graphics. I thought the designs were fun, funky, and appreciated the vibrant colors. I showed her how they had animals wearing glasses and/or patches. I really liked the pictures, you can tell that a lot of time and thought went into creating them. I do wonder a bit about the sizing though (read on...)

My daughter didn't appreciate the graphics as much as I did- announcing that they were too boyish colored and some are scary - one is bumble-bees and another is a crocodile. I steered her towards the other designs (cat & dog, underwater picture) and she was redirected. She picked out which one she liked (the crab from the underwater picture) and we went from there. I was glad actually that she picked the crab since it was just the right size to fit on her lens. Her lenses are not real big and most of the other animal pictures are actually quite a bit larger requiring me to cut through them (traumatic!).

Out of the 6 different designs we could cut out a total of 12 patches - so this is a very affordable solution at under $2 per patch! The patches are reusable IF you apply them carefully to a non-stick surface when you are not using them. You can carefully peel it off and stick it onto the glossy cardboard bookmark that they give you - or they suggest a window or a mirror. I did find that it seems to lose its stickiness so I am not sure how many times you could actually peel, store and reapply. Things like sweat, dirty fingers, unclean surface etc - will affect it! I'm also not brave enough to test this but I wonder how heat might impact the adhesive on the patch and if it could get gummy or gluey on your lens. Considering how expensive glasses are - I am very cautious to protect her lenses. Since I didn't feel comfortable about applying something with a sticky adhesive onto her expensive lenses I opted to this patch out with her spare glasses instead

The instructions are easy to follow and it will take just a few minutes to make a patch for your child's glasses. All you'll need is the glasses, a ballpoint pen and some scissors. First you peel a piece of the clear cling film and stick your lens for a tracing. Then you take that cling film and lay it on top of the "sticker" design and using scissors you cut both out simultaneously.

You then separate the 2 pieces and "stick" the cut out patch onto the outside of the glasses with the picture facing out and the black side in. I liked how it looked on her frames - no bulk at all, and I also liked the black interior. You cannot see through it and does a good job at blocking the light.

Our issue with the Dr. Patch is that it doesn't fully occlude. My daughters lenses are not real big and naturally they slide a tiny bit here or there, she is able to see over/under/or around the lens. In the case of Dr. Patch there is no covering there - only on the actual lens itself - so it left her "wide open". The temptation to peek with these is far to great and way to easy. I don't even really consider it peeking because she barely has to try or be sneaky about it in any way.

Dr. Patch in Photos:

Front: Face forward with her glasses adjusted perfectly Dr. Patch occludes forward vision.

Side: These frames actually have a somewhat wide arm on them so the frame blocks some side vision but it is not completely occluded


Check out these cheats....

Hint: If you can see those baby blues than she can see you too!

Because of the ease of peeking and the fact that it does not fully occlude my daughter's vision, this patch isn't our perfect patch. I do agree with Amomofelly at LittleFourEyes that it just doesn't fit the needs of a child with amblyopia who requires 100% occlusion.

That being said, even though it isn't our holy grail patch - I do believe this patch has a time and a place.

Will Dr. Patch be a good fit for you?

1) As some children's vision improves they will graduate to less restricted patching/occlusion. Some P.O.s will actually prescribe a blurred lens for their glasses that makes them have to work a bit harder to focus. An alternate to this is to apply a special cling film patch called a Bangerter Occlusion film that blurrs vision. While this patch won't occlude to a specific "power" like the Bangerter film, it is similar in how it attaches to the glasses, doesn't occlude the side, etc.

2) For the child struggling with patch compliance. Example: Maggie who is a little girl with Amblyopia that is featured here at Amblyopia Kids - she was just 2 years old and she was always ripping off her patches and not keeping them on. Well, their eye doctor actually suggested a solution similar to the concept of Dr. Patch - by cutting out contact paper and attaching it to the inside of the glasses lens. Using this type of patch was very successful for Maggie who "graduated" from patching in under a year. She is my inspiration! So, even though it didn't offer full occlusion it got the job done!

3) I'm actually thinking of Dr. Patch on my daughter's sunglasses which up until now I've been letting her go patchless with when we are outdoors. Belle has sensitive skin issues with the adhesive patches. And, lets face it - in the heat and sweat the adhesive patches are less than ideal. Sweating makes the adhesive patches come off and also causes irritation. Likewise, the cloth over the glasses patches can be bulky and somewhat "hot" as well - we have them made of fleece, felt, denim and faux suede. When my daughter wears her sunglasses I don't normally patch her for these reasons (also because they have no nosepad and many patches need a nosepad to hold them in place). So, in the absence of a suitable cloth patch for her sunglasses - I think this is a solution that is better than no patch at all.

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