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Child eyepatch.jpg
A child wearing an adhesive eyepatch to correct amblyopia

An eyepatch or eye pad 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, an adhesive bandage, or a plastic device which is clipped to a pair of glasses. 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.) Eyepatches used to block light while sleeping are referred to as a sleep mask. Eyepatches associated with pirates are a stereotype originating from fiction.

An eyepad or eye pad is a soft medical dressing that can be applied over an eye to protect it. It is not necessarily the same as an eyepatch.[1]


In the years before advanced medicine and surgery, eyepatches were common for people who had lost an eye. They were particularly prevalent among members of dangerous occupations, such as soldiers and sailors who could lose an eye in battle, as well as blacksmiths who used them to cover one eye for protection from sparks while working.[2] While stereotypically associated with pirates, there is no evidence to suggest the historicity of eye patch wearing pirates before several popular novels of the 19th century (see Pirate Eyepatches below).

Medical uses[edit]


Eye patching is used in the orthoptic management[3] of children at risk of lazy eye (amblyopia), especially strabismic or anisometropic[4] amblyopia. These conditions can cause visual suppression of areas of the dissimilar images[5] by the brain such as to avoid diplopia, resulting in a loss of visual acuity in the suppressed eye and in extreme cases in blindness in an otherwise functional eye. Patching the good eye forces the amblyopic eye to function, thereby causing vision in that eye to be retained.[3][4] It is important to perform “near activities” (such as reading or handiwork) when patched, thereby exercising active, attentive vision.[6]

A study provided evidence that children treated for amblyopia with eye patching had lower self-perception of social acceptance.[7] To avoid a child from being socially marginalized by its peers due to the wearing of an eye patch, atropine eye drops may be used instead. This induces temporary blurring in the treated eye.

It has been pointed out that the penalization of one eye by means of patching or atropine drops does not provide the conditions that are necessary in order to develop or improve binocular vision. Recently, efforts have been made to propose alternative treatments of amblyopia that do allow for the improvement of binocular sight, for example using binasal occlusion or partially frosted spectacles[5] in place of any eye patch, using alternating occlusion goggles or using methods of perceptual learning based on video games or virtual reality games for enhancing binocular vision.

A 2014 Cochrane Review sought to determine the effectiveness of occlusion treatment on patients with sensory deprivation amblyopia, however no trials were found eligible to be included in the review.[8] However, it is suggested that good outcomes from occlusion treatment for sensory deprivation amblyopia rely on compliance with the treatment.

Extraocular muscle palsy[edit]

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.[9][10][11]

Use for adaptation to dark[edit]

Aircraft pilots[edit]

Aircraft pilots used to use an eye patch, or close one eye to preserve night vision when there was disparity in the light intensity within or outside their aircraft, such as 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.[12] The FAA still recommends, "a pilot should close one eye when using a light to preserve some degree of night vision".[13] 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.[14][15][16]

Eyepatches are not currently used by military personnel; modern technology has provided an array of other means to preserve and enhance night vision, including red-light and low-level white lights, and night vision devices.[17][18][19]


Stereotypical depiction of a pirate with eyepatch

It is a stereotype that pirates during the age of sail often wore eyepatches. This stereotype is common in fiction and was popularized by the novel Treasure Island. Its wearing by a pirate was first attributed to Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah.

A "pirate night vision" myth asserts that pirates wore a patch over one eye in preparation for battle in order to have one eye adjusted to above-deck daylight and the other adjusted to below-deck darkness. The myth supposes that during raids pirates would remove their patches when going below deck and thus be instantly granted one-eyed night vision to easily navigate the ship's dim interior.[20] Although an interesting idea, the loss of depth perception during the critical period of boarding and seizing control of a vessel would be an incredibly large price to pay in order to see better when going below deck, making this myth implausible.

The myth of pirate night vision has no basis in fact. While it does take time for the human eye to adjust to optimum vision when switching between dark and brightly lit areas, there is no evidence to suggest that such a tactic was ever employed by pirates or anyone else. No naval combat manual or historical account of the era makes any reference to such tactics ever being used.[20]

Notable eyepatch-wearers[edit]

Notable eyepatch-wearers in fiction[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Google search
  2. ^ [reference needed]
  3. ^ a b Georgievski Z, Koklanis K, Leone J (2007). "Orthoptists' management of amblyopia – a case based survey". Strabismus. 15 (3): 197–203. 
  4. ^ a b Georgievski Z, Koklanis K, Leone J (2008). "Fixation behaviour in the treatment of amblyopia using atropine". Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology. 36 (Suppl 2): A764–A765. 
  5. ^ a b Final Activity and Management Report Summary - SVS (Strabismus and visual suppression), CORDIS
  6. ^ Birch EE (2013). "Amblyopia and binocular vision". Progress in Retinal and Eye Research (Review). 33: 67–84. PMC 3577063Freely accessible. PMID 23201436. doi:10.1016/j.preteyeres.2012.11.001. 
  7. ^ Webber AL, Wood JM, Gole GA, Brown B (November 2008). "Effect of amblyopia on self-esteem in children". Optometry and Vision Science: Official Publication of the American Academy of Optometry. 85 (11): 1074–81. PMID 18981922. doi:10.1097/OPX.0b013e31818b9911. 
  8. ^ Antonio-Santos A, Vedula SS, Hatt RR, Powell C (2014). "Occlusion for stimulus deprivation amblyopia". Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2: CD005136. PMC 4260153Freely accessible. PMID 24504975. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005136.pub3. 
  9. ^ O'Sullivan, S.B & Schmitz, T.J. (2007). Physical Rehabilitation. Philadelphia, PA: Davis. ISBN 978-0-8036-1247-1.
  10. ^ Kernich CA (2006). "Diplopia". The Neurologist. 12 (4): 229–230. 
  11. ^ Edlow, Jonathan; Selim, Magdy (2010). Neurology Emergencies. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-538858-9. 
  12. ^ Roy Brocklebank (2005). WORLD WAR III – The 1960s Version. Journal of Navigation, 58, pp 341-347 doi:10.1017/S0373463305003413
  13. ^ "Medical Facts for Pilots". Aeronautical Information Manual. FAA. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  14. ^ Nuclear flash eye protection, Steen Hartov
  15. ^ Les Frazier
  16. ^ Laser Weapons
  17. ^ Luria, S. M.; D. A. Kobus (26 April 1985). "IMMEDIATE VISIBILITY AFTER RED AND WHITE ADAPTATION" (PDF). Naval Submarine Research Laboratory. Department of the Navy. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  18. ^ "A Guide to the U. S. Naval Air Station at Vero Beach" (PDF). Indian River County Main Library,. July 1999. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  19. ^ "We Own The Night". Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD). Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  20. ^ a b MythBusters, episode 71 MythBusters
  21. ^ [1]Sightseeing Madrid - The Princess of Eboli
  22. ^ The Herald - Glasgow (UK) Nov 4, 2002
  23. ^ St. Louis Post Dispatch
  24. ^ Los Angeles Times
  25. ^ Indianapolis Star
  26. ^ Bruce Peterson BioLee Majors Online
  27. ^ a b c d Our favorite eyepatch heroes Maxim magazine
  28. ^ Scenes from an Unfinished War: Low-Intensity Conflict in Korea, 1966–1968 by Major Daniel P. Bolger
  29. ^ Lord Mowbray and StourtonThe Telegraph
  30. ^ Is Horrible 'Valkyrie' Tom Cruise's Nazi Apologia?Fox News
  31. ^ Dale Chihuly opens Rhode Island school gallery MSNBC
  32. ^ NASA Oral History TranscriptNASA
  33. ^ Sohachi Yamaoka, Date Masamune.
  34. ^ a b c d e Great Moments in Eye PatchesThe New York Times
  35. ^ Bangor Daily News, May 26, 1995
  36. ^ "Preminuo Dušan Prelević", novosti.rs
  37. ^ New York Day by Day Miami Herald
  38. ^ Colombia 1993 Lions Club International Amblyopia Prevention Campaign Digital Disability
  40. ^ a b Scorsese's film `Journey' whirls through magnificent obsession The San Diego Union
  41. ^ Dreams come true again The Herald - Glasgow (UK) Jan 31, 2000
  42. ^ Fluxus Reader by Ken Friedman publisher Academy Editions ISBN 978-0-471-97858-9
  43. ^ Jazz singer George Melly dies ABC News
  44. ^ Ziss, Robert F. (Spring 2001). "Author-artist Jack Coggins". Historical Review of Berks County. 66 (2): 76–82. ISSN 0018-2524. OCLC 1589887. Retrieved July 13, 2009. 
  45. ^ Jan Syrový
  46. ^ Vojenské osobnosti předválečné armády - Armádní generál Jan Syrový
  47. ^ José Millán and Terreros Base documental d'Història de Catalunya Contemporary. Biografies. (1800–1931) Biografies. (1800–1931)
  48. ^ Luis Vaz de Camões Catholic Encyclopedia
  49. ^ The Milwaukee Journal - Jun 27, 1983
  50. ^ Parkinson, Roger. The Fox of the North: The Life of Kutuzov, General of War and Peace. (London: Peter Davies, 1976), 11-17.
  51. ^ Momus (April 1998). "Story Of An Eye". Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  53. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/13/newspaper-apologizes-mocking-congressional-hopeful-iraq-war-injury/
  54. ^ Nicolas-Jacques Conté This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "article name needed". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. 
  55. ^ [2]
  56. ^ The Scourge of the Pirate Coast QatarVisitor
  57. ^ TV: Focus on Directors; Raoul Walsh Is Rewarding Subject in Channel 13's 'Men Who Made Movies' The New York Times
  58. ^ Ray Sawyer The Spokesman-Review, Dec 22, 1978
  59. ^ Richard W. Rahn, Cato Institute. Accessed December 4, 2008.
  60. ^ Kansas '70s superstars lead lineup of Celebration bands By DAVID BURKE The Herald & Review August 4, 1999
  61. ^ Interview with Ron Hamilton (Patch the Pirate) The Baptist Voice
  62. ^ Sheila Gish Renowned British actress of stage and screen by Carole woods Herald Scotland March 14, 2005
  63. ^ Weir, Henry VIII, p. 262.
  64. ^ The Con Movie
  65. ^ Without Bad Luck, He'd Have No Luck at All by John Branch The New York Times March 24, 2006
  66. ^ POST, WILEY HARDEMAN Texas State Historical Association
  67. ^ 魏略曰:時夏侯淵與惇俱為將軍,軍中號惇為盲夏侯。惇惡之,照鏡恚怒,輒撲鏡於地。
  68. ^ Sound of Bounce on Free Throw Anime News Network
  69. ^ a b c d e f g http://www.tor.com/2013/04/12/the-8-essential-eyepatches-in-science-fiction/
  70. ^ http://www.teamfortress.com/classes.php?class=demoman

External links[edit]