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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Israeli politician Moshe Dayan wearing an eyepatch

An eyepatch is a small patch that is worn in front of one eye. It may be a cloth patch attached around the head by an elastic band or by a string, or an adhesive bandage. It is often worn by people to cover a lost or injured eye, but it also has a therapeutic use in children for the treatment of amblyopia. (See orthoptics and vision therapy.)



In the years before advanced medicine and surgery, eyepatches were common. They were particularly prevalent among members of dangerous occupations, such as sailors[citation needed] and blacksmiths[citation needed]. Sailors would also wear them over one eye above deck and then switch it over in order to be able to see in the dark below deck. David Bowie made it a fashion statement in 1972.

Today, with prosthetic eyes increasingly accessible, eyepatches are no longer common[citation needed].


A stereotypical depiction of a pirate, sporting the requisite eyepatch

It has been speculated [1] that sailors who often went above and below deck might have used an eye patch to keep one eye adjusted to the darkness below decks. The strong sunlight while above deck on an oceangoing vessel could require minutes of adaptation to the dim lighting below deck. With virtually no light sources below deck, sailors would have to rely heavily upon their eyes to adjust. In the critical moments of modifying the rigging, navigating, and especially during battle, those minutes were too precious. A simple switch of the patch from one eye to the other might have saved time when going between decks. Professor Liam Kirkaldy believes "It's so they could see below deck. or in a spooky treasure jungle. or potentially so that they would have a slight advantage in the case of being eaten by a giant squid, thus gaining the extra seconds against what would otherwise be 'eye adjustment' to escape through its scaley beak." However, this usage of the eyepatch is not supported by any historical records.


Similarly, pilots at one time would also do the same, when flying at night over brightly lit cities, so that one eye could look out, and the other would be adjusted for the dim lighting of the cockpit to read unlit instruments and maps.

Once flashlights with red bulbs, backlit instruments, and other modern instruments were introduced, this no longer was necessary, just as boats and ships evolving into being well lit made eye patches a thing of the past.

Some military pilots have worn a lead-lined or gold-lined eyepatch, to protect against blindness in both eyes, in the event of a nuclear blast or laser weapon attack.[2][3][4]

Eyecare Treatment



A child wearing an adhesive eyepatch to correct amblyopia

Eye patching is used in the orthoptic management[5] of children at risk of lazy eye (amblyopia), especially strabismic or anisometropic[6] amblyopia.

These conditions can cause visual suppression of the dissimilar images by the brain, resulting in blindness in an otherwise functional eye.

By patching the good eye, the amblyopic eye is forced to function, causing vision to be retained.

Extraocular muscle palsy

To initially relieve double vision (diplopia) caused by an extra-ocular muscle palsy, an eye care professional may recommend using an eyepatch. This can help to relieve the dizziness, vertigo and nausea that are associated with this form of double vision.

Notable eyepatch-wearers

See also

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^ Nuclear flash eye protection, Steen Hartov
  3. ^ Les Frazier
  4. ^ Laser Weapons
  5. ^ Georgievski Z, Koklanis K, Leone J. Orthoptists' management of amblyopia - a case based survey. Strabismus, 2007, 15(3): 197-203. [Pubmed Link]
  6. ^ Georgievski Z, Koklanis K, Leone J. Fixation behaviour in the treatment of amblyopia using atropine. Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology 2008; 36 (Suppl 2): A764–A765. [Link]

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