Could Patching Be As Old-Fashioned As Bazooka Joe?

Bazooka-JoeBazooka Joe, the iconic comic strip character who accompanies the gum.  It’s his 60th anniversary, and in tribute to that Abrams has published a retro collection.  Ever wonder where the concept of Bazooka Joe wearing an eye patch came from?  Jay Lynch explains that 1953, the year of Joe’s debut, was the year of the eye patch.  The reason for its popularity was the Zeitgeist, or perhaps as Lynch suggests one should say Sightgeist, of the wildly successful ad campaign for “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt”, rolled out in 1951 in The New Yorker Magazine.  So popular was the campaign, that the ad ran for 25 years!

Hathaway Patch

The Afterword of Lynch’s essay takes its title from a 16th century proverb: In The Land Of The Blind, The One-Eyed Man Is King.  Suffice it to say that as much as the Hathaway Shirt Man became a cultural icon, children who were forced to wear a patch while among friends never enjoyed that degree of acceptance or self-confidence.  The iatrogenically one-eyed child never experienced the feeling of being a King while being patched, and losing half of one’s visual field only added to a sense of spatial uncertainty.   After all, she had to go to school, navigate, and function in a world not designed for one-eyedness.

That was the impetus for the blog post on a new Amblyopia Infographic, which you can take another look at here. Don’t get me wrong; patching has its place in select cases and very limited circumstances.  But there is so much more to be done beyond patching.  We’ve all heard the expression from patients that when they tried to discuss vision therapy with their child’s pediatric ophthalmologist, their inquiries were blown off.  If you, or anyone you know, has a child with amblyopia, make sure to obtain a consult with a developmental optometrist.  While those vested in the patching industry may have their feathers ruffled by alternatives or complements to occlusion or penalization, relying solely on Bazooka Joe strategies really is archaic.  Modern medicine deserves better.

6 thoughts on “Could Patching Be As Old-Fashioned As Bazooka Joe?

  1. Thank you for sharing the infographic for amblyopia again and this perspective. It really is time for things to change! When I saw a child sporting an eye patch, I encouraged my friend (her mother) to consult with my developmental optometrist. Turns out she needed contacts to aid her peripheral vision and no patching was necessary.

  2. How do I find a developmental optometrist? My 7 yr old has strabimus and amblyopia and, we were recently told to start patching again…and were even offered the chemical patch which will blur his vision for an entire week in his “good” eye. There has got to be a better way! I went to a vision therapist who said he wouldn’t work with my son because his misalignment is too far and he’d be afraid to push for fear of double vision presenting. I’m at a loss for where to go next.

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