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All day eye patching "excessive"

Children with a lazy eye do not need to wear an eye patch all day, but just for three to four hours, say researchers.

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is often treated by patching a child's healthy eye and making their lazy eye do all the work.

But writing in the British Medical Journal, researchers say their study of 97 children over 3 to 7 years found that patching the child's eye throughout the day was “excessive”.

They say that eye patching can cause considerable distress to both the child an family.

Patching for up to 12 hours was no more beneficial than patching for just six hours a day, they add.

Visual improvement was also similar for children who wore an eye patch for six to 12 hours as those who did so for three to six hours.

The authors suggest that an initial dose rate of three to fours hours a day should be a clinical priority, but children under the age of four years, this could be reduced.

They add that eye patching should be minimised if health staff want to get the best results.