The condition that caused the lazy eye must be treated. This means spectacles for refractive errors, and surgery for cataracts, drooping eyelids and squints.
The lazy eye itself is most effectively treated by occlusion therapy (patching of the good eye). This forces the child to use the weak eye. The patch can be held on the eye using a disposable adhesive patch or with an elastic band like a pirate. Alternatively, the spectacles can be covered or made with frosted plastic. The more complete the blockage of light from the eye, the more effective the treatment.
Patching can be enforced full-time during all waking hours in more severe cases of lazy eye or only part of the time so that the child does not have to wear the patch to school in milder cases. Patching can cause lazy eye in the good eye, but this is almost always reversible. Because of this possibility, patching should be always done under supervision of an eye specialist. Patching may be needed from a few months to several years as the lazy eye may return after patching is stopped. Patching is usually not effective after the age of 10.
The main difficulty with patching is that no child likes to have a good eye patched. Parents must closely supervise and enforce that continuous wearing of patches and spectacles and use of all means to persuade the child to cooperate.
Lazy eye is a common condition developing in childhood that often goes unrecognised. Early detection is important as it can only be treated successfully in early childhood. Treatment is effective but it depends on the parent's ability to ensure that the spectacles and patches are worn constantly. The patch is always worn on the good eye.