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

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, 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. Eyepatches used to block light while sleeping are referred to as a sleep mask.

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]

Eyepatches associated with movie portrayals of pirates represented a way for crew who were moving from daylight to below decks' dark conditions to have one eye dark-adapted to seeing in dim light.[citation needed]


In the years before advanced medicine and surgery, eyepatches were common for people who had a lost or injured eye. They were particularly prevalent among members of dangerous occupations, such as soldiers and sailors who could injure an eye in battle. While stereotypically associated with pirates, there is no evidence to suggest the historical accuracy of eye patch wearing pirates before several popular novels of the 19th century (see Association with pirates below).

Medical uses[edit]


Eye patching is used in the orthoptic management[2] of children at risk of lazy eye (amblyopia), especially strabismic or anisometropic[3] amblyopia. These conditions can cause visual suppression of areas of the dissimilar images[4] 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.[2][3] It is important to perform "near activities" (such as reading or handiwork) when patched, thereby exercising active, attentive vision.[5]

A study provided evidence that children treated for amblyopia with eye patching had lower self-perception of social acceptance.[6] To prevent a child from being socially marginalized by their peers due to wearing 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 necessary conditions 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[4] 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.[7] 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.[8][9][10]

Use by aircraft pilots[edit]

Aircraft pilots used 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.[11] 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.[12][13][14]

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.[15][16][17]

Association with pirates[edit]

1783 etching of wounded sailors

Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah, once the most popular pirate in the Persian Gulf, was also the first known to wear an eyepatch after losing an eye in battle.[18][19] Ex-sailors, ashore, were sometimes portrayed as having an eyepatch to cover the loss of an eye.

Medical texts have referred to the eye patch as a "pirate's patch" and, writing in the Minnesota Academy of Sciences Journal in 1934, Charles Sheard of the Mayo foundation pointed out that by "wearing a patch (The pirate's patch) over one eye, it will keep the covered eye in a state of readiness and adaptation for night vision".[20] This technique was explored during WWII by institutes such as the United States Navy.[21] The proposal that pirates may have worn an eyepatch so that one eye would be pre-adjusted to below-deck darkness was tested in an episode of MythBusters in 2007 and found to be plausible, but without any recorded historical precedent.[22]

Notable wearers[edit]

In fiction[edit]

An eyepatch can be used in fiction to lend an additional dimension to a character, an air of mystery or general je ne sais quoi.[70]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Google search
  2. ^ a b Georgievski Z, Koklanis K, Leone J (2007). "Orthoptists' management of amblyopia – a case based survey". Strabismus. 15 (3): 197–203. doi:10.1080/09273970701631975. PMID 18058356. S2CID 26471932.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b Final Activity and Management Report Summary - SVS (Strabismus and visual suppression), CORDIS
  5. ^ Birch EE (2013). "Amblyopia and binocular vision". Progress in Retinal and Eye Research (Review). 33: 67–84. doi:10.1016/j.preteyeres.2012.11.001. PMC 3577063. PMID 23201436.
  6. ^ Webber AL, Wood JM, Gole GA, Brown B (November 2008). "Effect of amblyopia on self-esteem in children". Optometry and Vision Science. 85 (11): 1074–81. doi:10.1097/OPX.0b013e31818b9911. PMID 18981922. S2CID 205907362.
  7. ^ Antonio-Santos, Aileen; Vedula, S. Swaroop; Hatt, Sarah R.; Powell, Christine (23 March 2020). "Occlusion for stimulus deprivation amblyopia". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 3: CD005136. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005136.pub4. ISSN 1469-493X. PMC 7089638. PMID 32203629.
  8. ^ O'Sullivan, S.B & Schmitz, T.J. (2007). Physical Rehabilitation. Philadelphia, PA: Davis. ISBN 978-0-8036-1247-1.
  9. ^ Kernich CA (2006). "Diplopia". The Neurologist. 12 (4): 229–230. doi:10.1097/01.nrl.0000231927.93645.34. PMID 16832242.
  10. ^ Edlow, Jonathan; Selim, Magdy (2010). Neurology Emergencies. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-538858-9.
  11. ^ Roy Brocklebank (2005). WORLD WAR III – The 1960s Version. Journal of Navigation, 58, pp 341-347 doi:10.1017/S0373463305003413
  12. ^ Nuclear flash eye protection, Steen Hartov
  13. ^ Les Frazier
  14. ^ "Laser Weapons". Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
  15. ^ 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 26, 2010. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
  16. ^ "A Guide to the U. S. Naval Air Station at Vero Beach" (PDF). Indian River County Main Library. July 1999. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
  17. ^ "We Own The Night". Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD). Archived from the original on 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
  18. ^ Lampe, Christine (2010). The Book of Pirates. Gibbs Smith. p. 14. ISBN 9781423614807.
  19. ^ Belgrave, Charles (1966). The Pirate Coast. George Bell & Sons. p. 122.
  20. ^ Sheard, Charles (1934). "Night Vision". Minnesota Academy of Sciences Journal. 2–12: 26.
  21. ^ "Night Vision". Addendum to the Handbook of the Hospital Corps, United States Navy. 1939. United States. Navy Dept. Bureau of Medicine and Surgery: A–2. 1944.
  22. ^ MythBusters, episode 71
  23. ^ [1]National Portrait Gallery
  24. ^ [2]Sightseeing Madrid - The Princess of Eboli
  25. ^ The Herald - Glasgow (UK) Nov 4, 2002
  26. ^ St. Louis Post Dispatch
  27. ^ Los Angeles Times
  28. ^ Indianapolis Star
  29. ^ Bruce Peterson BioLee Majors Online
  30. ^ a b c d Our favorite eyepatch heroes[permanent dead link] Maxim magazine
  31. ^ Scenes from an Unfinished War: Low-Intensity Conflict in Korea, 1966–1968 Archived 2011-06-01 at the Wayback Machine by Major Daniel P. Bolger
  32. ^ "Obituary: Lord Mowbray and Stourton". The Telegraph. December 14, 2006. Archived from the original on 2022-01-12.
  33. ^ Is Horrible 'Valkyrie' Tom Cruise's Nazi Apologia?Fox News
  34. ^ Dale Chihuly opens Rhode Island school gallery MSNBC
  35. ^ NASA Oral History TranscriptNASA
  36. ^ "SNL, Pete Davidson Under Fire For Jokes About Veteran and GOP Congressional Candidate's Eye Patch". National Review. 5 November 2018.
  37. ^ Sohachi Yamaoka, Date Masamune.
  38. ^ a b c d e Great Moments in Eye PatchesThe New York Times
  39. ^ Bangor Daily News, May 26, 1995
  40. ^ "Preminuo Dušan Prelević", novosti.rs
  41. ^ New York Day by Day Miami Herald
  42. ^ Colombia 1993 Lions Club International Amblyopia Prevention Campaign Digital Disability
  44. ^ a b Scorsese's film `Journey' whirls through magnificent obsession The San Diego Union
  45. ^ Dreams come true again The Herald - Glasgow (UK) Jan 31, 2000
  46. ^ Fluxus Reader by Ken Friedman publisher Academy Editions ISBN 978-0-471-97858-9
  47. ^ Jazz singer George Melly dies ABC News
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ Jan Syrový
  50. ^ Vojenské osobnosti předválečné armády - Armádní generál Jan Syrový
  51. ^ José Millán and Terreros Base documental d'Història de Catalunya Contemporary. Biografies. (1800–1931) Biografies. (1800–1931)
  52. ^ Luis Vaz de Camões Catholic Encyclopedia
  53. ^ Tremayne, David; Fotheringham, Alasdair (11 October 2013). "F1 driver Maria de Villota, once the 'fastest woman in sport', is found dead in Spanish hotel". The Independent. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  54. ^ The Milwaukee Journal - Jun 27, 1983
  55. ^ Momus (April 1998). "Story Of An Eye". Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  57. ^ "Newspaper Apologizes for Cartoon Depicting War-Hero Candidate in Eye Patch". Fox News. 26 March 2015.
  58. ^ Nicolas-Jacques Conté This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  59. ^ "Limelight: Doc tells outlandish tale of Canadian's rise and fall in NYC".
  60. ^ The Scourge of the Pirate Coast Archived 2011-07-15 at the Wayback Machine QatarVisitor
  61. ^ TV: Focus on Directors; Raoul Walsh Is Rewarding Subject in Channel 13's 'Men Who Made Movies' The New York Times
  62. ^ Ray Sawyer The Spokesman-Review, Dec 22, 1978
  63. ^ Richard W. Rahn, Cato Institute. Accessed December 4, 2008.
  64. ^ Kansas '70s superstars lead lineup of Celebration bands By DAVID BURKE The Herald & Review August 4, 1999
  65. ^ Interview with Ron Hamilton (Patch the Pirate) The Baptist Voice
  66. ^ Sheila Gish Renowned British actress of stage and screen by Carole woods Herald Scotland March 14, 2005
  67. ^ Weir, Henry VIII, p. 262.
  68. ^ Without Bad Luck, He'd Have No Luck at All by John Branch The New York Times March 24, 2006
  69. ^ POST, WILEY HARDEMAN Texas State Historical Association
  70. ^ Kellie McGann (9 November 2016). "This New Characterization Technique Could Transform Your Writing". The Write Practice. Retrieved June 27, 2021. What do we think when we see someone wearing an eyepatch? We immediately wonder. 'What happened? Is it real? Were they born that way? Was there an accident?' In other words, 'What’s the STORY?!'Alex Walker (November 11, 2015). "How a 5-cent Eye-Patch Created a Million Dollar Story". Medium.com. Retrieved June 27, 2021. Oglivy explained that the eye-patch was intended to turn the image from a 'product photo shoot' into a story. It seems silly to say, but most of us find it hard to look at this man without wondering: Who is he? How did he lose that eye? Was he in the war? Was it a bar fight? Is he a spy?
  71. ^ a b c d e f Staff (April 12, 2013). "The 8 Essential Eyepatches in Science Fiction".
  72. ^ a b c d e Martin Chilton (January 28, 2011). "The one-eyed legends of the big screen". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2022-01-12.
  73. ^ "Louis Forton".
  74. ^ John Brownlee (November 1, 2016). "13 Immortal Costumes From The Closet Of David Bowie".
  75. ^ Ed Zotti (September 22, 1983). "Nothing ever makes sense in Brenda Starr". San Diego Reader. Retrieved June 27, 2021.
  76. ^ "Sally". Peanuts.com. 4 September 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2021. For 6 months, Sally experienced amblyopia ('lazy eye') and wore an eye patch
  77. ^ Alex Walker (November 11, 2015). "How a 5-cent Eye-Patch Created a Million Dollar Story". Medium.com. Retrieved June 27, 2021."History of advertising: No 110: The Hathaway man's eyepatch". Campaign. October 16, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2021.

External links[edit]