YOUNGSTERS sported their colourful eye patches at an Easter-themed 'Patch Party' last week hosted by Warrington Hospital.

The orthoptics team organised the event for their young patients with the condition amblyopia.

This is where the vision in one eye is poor and may be due to a number of factors in early childhood including the need for glasses or a squint.

In most cases, only one eye is affected, but it sometimes affects both eyes.

The group was set up to introduce children to other youngsters suffering from the condition which requires them to wear a patch in order to strengthen their eye.

Some children have very poor vision in their amblyopic eye and have to wear their patch all day, which has a huge impact on their day-to-day lives and can be very difficult for both children and their parents.

Jennifer Shave, specialist orthoptist, said: “We tend to pick up these conditions in children in vision screenings – our team members go out to schools and if they spot lower vision in one eye they will refer the child on.

"We would assess whether they needed glasses and after 18 weeks wearing them, if they still have difference in vision, we would start them on patches."

The group also provides a support network for the children’s parents and give them ideas of games and activities that the children can do while wearing their patch.

Last week, children coloured in pictures, decorated Easter biscuits and created daffodils and sheep which is all close-up work that strengthens the effect of the patch.

Jennifer added: "The feedback from the party was fantastic, the children and parents alike really enjoyed themselves, and it was a great way of meeting others with amblyopia and wearing patches.

"The parents found it particularly useful for discussing ways of encouraging their child to wear their patch.”

About one in 25 children develop some degree of amblyopia and it is the most common condition treated by Orthoptists.

Orthoptists are specially trained to assess and manage children and if necessary, they will refer a child to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for further assessment and treatment.

If treatment is done early enough in childhood, the vision will usually improve, often up to a normal level.

In effect, the visual development of the affected eye catches up.

Eye patches are soft, with sticky edges that fix to the skin around the eye and in cases of allergies, some patients can be given a patch to fix to their glasses.

The length of treatment with an eye patch is dependent on the age of the child and the severity of the amblyopia.