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Title: Eyepatch  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Carl Ouellet, Amblyopia, Jolly Roger, List of fictional pirates, Piracy
Collection: Eyewear, Medical Equipment, Ophthalmology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


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.


  • History 1
  • Eyecare treatment 2
    • Amblyopia 2.1
    • Extraocular muscle palsy 2.2
  • Use for adaptation to dark 3
    • Aircraft pilots 3.1
    • Pirates 3.2
  • Sea sickness and eye patches 4
  • Notable eyepatch-wearers 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


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.[1] 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).

Eyecare treatment


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]

A study provided evidence that children treated for amblyopia with eye patching had lower self-perception of social acceptance.[5] 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[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.

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.[6][7][8]

Use for adaptation to dark

Aircraft pilots

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.[9] The FAA still recommends, "a pilot should close one eye when using a light to preserve some degree of night vision".[10] 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.[11][12][13]

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.[14][15][16]


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.

Whilst piracy was a violent occupation and eye injuries occurred, a myth supposes that pirates wore a patch over one of their eyes to adjust that eye to darkness in preparation for battle. That way, when they boarded a ship and were ready to go below deck, they could remove their patch and be able to see well in the poorly lit interior of the ship. It takes time for the eye to adjust itself for darkness – had they not prepared their eye ahead of time by using an eyepatch, the boarders would have been at an immediate tactical disadvantage the moment they went below.[17]

Although the idea is plausible, this tactic does not appear in any naval combat manual or historical account of the era.[17]

Sea sickness and eye patches

It has been suggested that eye patches can help with sea sickness, is the same thing as motion sickness, except that it takes place on a sea or another large body of water, such as an ocean or a lake. But this refers to covering both eyes with a sleep mask or similar device. It is generally accepted that keeping both eyes open and focusing on the distant horizon is more effective, since sea sickness results from the sensory inputs of the eyes and the vestibular senses.

Notable eyepatch-wearers

See also


  1. ^ [reference needed]
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b Final Activity and Management Report Summary - SVS (Strabismus and visual suppression), CORDIS
  5. ^
  6. ^ O'Sullivan, S.B & Schmitz, T.J. (2007). Physical Rehabilitation. Philadelphia, PA: Davis. ISBN 978-0-8036-1247-1.
  7. ^ Kernich, C.A. (2006). Diplopia. The Neurologist, 12(4): 229-230
  8. ^
  9. ^ Roy Brocklebank (2005). WORLD WAR III – The 1960s Version. Journal of Navigation, 58, pp 341-347 doi:10.1017/S0373463305003413
  10. ^
  11. ^ Nuclear flash eye protection, Steen Hartov
  12. ^ Les Frazier
  13. ^ Laser Weapons
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b Mythbusters, episode 71 Mythbusters
  18. ^ [1]Sightseeing Madrid - The Princess of Eboli
  19. ^ The Herald - Glasgow (UK) Nov 4, 2002
  20. ^ St. Louis Post Dispatch
  21. ^ Los Angeles Times
  22. ^ Indianapolis Star
  23. ^ Bruce Peterson BioLee Majors Online
  24. ^ a b c d Our favorite eyepatch heroes Maxim magazine
  25. ^ Scenes from an Unfinished War: Low-Intensity Conflict in Korea, 1966–1968 by Major Daniel P. Bolger
  26. ^ Lord Mowbray and StourtonThe Telegraph
  27. ^ Is Horrible 'Valkyrie' Tom Cruise's Nazi Apologia?Fox News
  28. ^ Dale Chihuly opens Rhode Island school gallery MSNBC
  29. ^ NASA Oral History TranscriptNASA
  30. ^ Sohachi Yamaoka, Date Masamune.
  31. ^ a b c d e Great Moments in Eye PatchesThe New York Times
  32. ^ Bangor Daily News, May 26, 1995
  33. ^ "Preminuo Dušan Prelević",
  34. ^ New York Day by Day Miami Herald
  35. ^ Colombia 1993 Lions Club International Amblyopia Prevention Campaign Digital Disability
  37. ^ a b Scorsese's film `Journey' whirls through magnificent obsession The San Diego Union
  38. ^ Dreams come true again The Herald - Glasgow (UK) Jan 31, 2000
  39. ^ Fluxus Reader by Ken Friedman publisher Academy Editions ISBN 978-0-471-97858-9
  40. ^ Jazz singer George Melly dies ABC News
  41. ^
  42. ^ Jan Syrový
  43. ^ Vojenské osobnosti předválečné armády - Armádní generál Jan Syrový
  44. ^ José Millán and Terreros Base documental d'Història de Catalunya Contemporary. Biografies. (1800–1931) Biografies. (1800–1931)
  45. ^ Luis Vaz de Camões Catholic Encyclopedia
  46. ^ The Milwaukee Journal - Jun 27, 1983
  47. ^ Parkinson, Roger. The Fox of the North: The Life of Kutuzov, General of War and Peace. (London: Peter Davies, 1976), 11-17.
  48. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^ Nicolas-Jacques Conté This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain
  52. ^ [2]
  53. ^ The Scourge of the Pirate Coast QatarVisitor
  54. ^ TV: Focus on Directors; Raoul Walsh Is Rewarding Subject in Channel 13's 'Men Who Made Movies' The New York Times
  55. ^ Ray Sawyer The Spokesman-Review, Dec 22, 1978
  56. ^ Richard W. Rahn, Cato Institute. Accessed December 4, 2008.
  57. ^ Kansas '70s superstars lead lineup of Celebration bands By DAVID BURKE The Herald & Review August 4, 1999
  58. ^ Interview with Ron Hamilton (Patch the Pirate) The Baptist Voice
  59. ^ Sheila Gish Renowned British actress of stage and screen by Carole woods Herald Scotland March 14, 2005
  60. ^ Weir, Henry VIII, p. 262.
  61. ^ The Con Movie
  62. ^ Without Bad Luck, He'd Have No Luck at All by John Branch The New York Times March 24, 2006
  63. ^ POST, WILEY HARDEMAN Texas State Historical Association
  64. ^ 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。
  65. ^ Sound of Bounce on Free Throw Anime News Network

External links

  • International Orthoptic Association
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