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One dad has turned a medical necessity into a fun, creative ritual for him and his 18-month-old daughter Layla. Every day, before putting Layla's corrective eye patch on her, Geof Grubb grabs pens or crayons to draw cool pictures on the patch.
“Patching can be frustrating for me as the parent, so this helps make it fun and it keeps me committed to doing it every day,” Grubb, a 32-year-old stay-at-home dad in the Chicago area, told TODAY Parents via email. “We bought her some plain patches and I thought they were a little depressing so this was my way of making it more fun, especially for me.”
Layla was born with a small cataract in her eye. Since she was eight months old, she has worn a patch to strengthen her vision for two hours a day. While they aren’t sure how long the treatment might last, Layla might need to wear patches until she is five.
“Her eyesight is actually very good, she doesn't have a lazy eye or anything like that. Her doctor is very happy with her development so far,” Grubb says.
For her part, Layla dislikes the patches, but she is learning to tolerate them. Each day, Grubb snaps a photo of his daughter wearing his latest patch, which he chronicles on Instagram. Coming up with unique patch illustrations is challenging for Grubb, who used to work as in chemical engineering.
“It was easy to come up with ideas at first but it's gotten harder because I don't want to repeat designs. I have a running list that my wife and family help me with. I'm always open to new cute ideas, though,” he says.
Layla doesn’t prefer any patch mostly because she can’t see them. But Grubb loves the Calvin and Hobbes patch the best; he enjoyed the cartoon when he was growing up. After a few hours of wear, the patches look pretty ragged so Grubb hasn’t saved many.
Patches include everything from beloved childhood characters—such as Elmo or Bambi—to the “One Ring to rule them all” from “Lord of the Rings,” to superhero emblems—such as Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern—to lettering, including Mom, 2015, or “Star Wars.”
While Laylas’ patches have become a viral favorite, Grubb says that few people approach him in real life.
“Sometimes people ask about the patch, mostly other children. I try to reassure them she’s fine and it’s just to help her see better.”