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LifestyleColumnistsBeth Whitehouse

Strengthening an eye with an eye patch

Q. My 4-year-old daughter has amblyopia (unequal vision). Her doctor prescribed patching her strong eye two hours a day to force the weaker eye to work harder. She also will wear glasses full time. Are there other tips to help the weaker eye? Is the computer helpful or straining?

A. Many pediatric ophthal- mologists recommend specific activities while wearing the patch to amplify its effectiveness, says Dr. Steven Rubin, chief of pediatric ophthalmology at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and vice president of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

"You would think you get more bang for your buck if you're concentrating on something rather than daydreaming," he says, though not all scientific studies support that.

Rubin recommends his patients do some kind of activity requiring mental and ocular focus while using the patch. If your daughter plays video games or is on the computer, that's an ideal time to wear the patch, and you should make it a requirement that she has to put it on if she wants to play. Same for watching TV, coloring, doing arts and crafts, and, for older children, reading or doing homework, he says.

There are other therapies as well you could ask your child's doctor about, including wearing a special foil on the glass lens in front of her good eye, or putting eye drops such as atropine in the good eye to blur the focus and force the other eye to take over, Rubin says.

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