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An Alternative to Patching

If one eye is weaker than the other, such as in the case of a lazy eye, one method that is used to train the brain to work with both eyes in an optimal manner is patching. This means the stronger eye is closed with a patch, forcing the brain to learn to work with the weaker eye. This method presents advantages and disadvantages. The main challenge with this approach is the fact that we shut down the functionality of the stronger eye for a period of time with the goal of strengthening the weaker eye. This could compromise the stronger eye since it doesn’t get used for some time. Once we stop using the patch, then the brain needs to relearn how to use both eyes together simultaneously which could present a challenge.

 

Monocular Fixation in a Binocular Field

Monocular Fixation in a Binocular Field

There is a wonderful alternative to patching and that is monocular fixation in a binocular field, in short MFBF. This allows both eyes to be open while training and strengthening only one eye at a time, avoiding the need to shut one eye off. In order to achieve the MFBF effect, filters are used. For example, during a vision therapy session, a child is given the task of completing a maze on a paper by tracing the right path to the way out using a red marker. In that case, we would place a green filter in front of the lazy eye or weaker eye that we are working to strengthen. Since there’s a green filter in front of the eye, this specific eye is still able to view the target and perform the task of completing the maze. The other stronger eye which does not require training at the moment, is open however there is a red filter placed on top which prevents this eye from seeing the target. It means that both eyes are open but the weaker eye must meet the challenge to complete the task all on its own. By keeping both eyes open but using filters, we can control which eye is receiving the strength training and which visual signals the brain is able to perceive.

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Common Questions

Yes, there is an alternative to closing one eye with a patch for a period of time. The alternative method allows both eyes to stay open while using filters to control which eye is actively being trained. This avoids the challenges that come with keeping one eye shut for a period of time. Using filters to strengthen the weaker eye while the stronger eye is open but not participating in the activit, is called monocular fixation in a binocular field.
MFBF stands for monocular fixation in a binocular field. This means that one eye is being trained to properly fixate while the other eye is open but not participating in the activity. This provides many advantages as it enables one eye to be trained at a time, without the need to completely shut off the alternate eye. The other eye can remain opened but using filters it is separated so that it won’t interfere with the training of the eye that is currently being strengthened.
Eye patching, commonly recommended by an optometrist for conditions like amblyopia, varies in duration based on the severity of the condition and the age of the patient. Typically, patching can last anywhere from an hour a day to all waking hours, depending on the prescribed treatment plan. The optometrist will provide tailored recommendations after a functional eye exam, ensuring that the therapy is most effective for the individual's specific needs.
Yes, you can patch over glasses. In many cases, especially when the child has a refractive error along with conditions like amblyopia, the optometrist may prescribe glasses. The patch is applied over the stronger eye, and the child wears their glasses over the patch. This ensures that the weaker eye is being stimulated to work while still providing the necessary correction for clear vision.
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Summary

There are various methods available nowadays which allow one eye to participate in a vision therapy activity at a time. Patching closes off the stronger eye, forcing the brain to learn how to work properly with the weaker eye. The alternative method of MFBF employs filters to keep both eyes open but to enable the focus to be on one eye at a time. To schedule a functional vision exam, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.

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