There are many reasons why a person might need to wear an eye patch. Even in the modern medical age, for many situations there’s still nothing more effective than a physical barrier between your eye and everything else in the world. That’s an eye patch.
Here are seven reasons people wear eye patches, some of which are temporary, and others that could last the rest of a person’s life.
To Protect an Eye After Surgery
When a person needs surgery on their eye, the healing process is critical for a successful long term outcome. Eyes don’t heal in the same way as broken skin, and keeping debris, dust, and bacteria away from them is essential.
The patch also keeps the wearer from rubbing their own eyes, which is often done without thinking.
This temporary need for an eye patch also applies to people getting cosmetic eye surgery, or corrective surgery such as LASIK.
For fastest healing after surgery, air flow has been found to help as much as protecting the eye. To protect the eye and allow for air flow at the same time, you can use an aeropatch, a special kind of mesh eye patch that allows limited visibility as well as air flow.
When the Eye Was Removed or Disfigured
When certain diseases reach into the areas around or within the eye, sometimes the eye must be surgically removed to eradicate the disease. This happens most often with certain forms of cancer.
After having an eye removed, one can be fit for a prosthetic eye. Many people in this situation also choose to get an eye patch to serve as a backup if the prosthetic eye is getting re-polished or otherwise repaired. See 5 tips for making an eye patch more comfortable.
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
This condition happens to 2-3% of children, and is one of the most common reasons to wear an eye patch. It happens when one eye is ‘favored’ by the brain more than the other, leading the other eye’s optic nerves to weaken. If nothing is done, the weaker eye can atrophy and cause worse problems to develop.
An ophthalmologist will sometimes prescribe an eye patch for these situations, most commonly for children. The patch will be worn over the stronger eye, which will force the weaker eye to work harder and strengthen the optic nerves. Over time, the weaker eye will strengthen enough so the eye patch is no longer needed.
The biggest challenge for kids in wearing eye patches is, depending on the age, getting the kid to wear the eye patch. For older kids, they might also get teased or questioned about it by other kids, making them feel singled out.
Here’s an article about how to help your child feel good about wearing an eye patch.
When amblyopia goes untreated, strabismus is one of the conditions that can result. While you can have amblyopia and show few visible signs of it, strabismus is visually evident, because the eye falls out of center. It can fall left, right, up, or down, and eventually it can lead to worse conditions.
But again, an eye patch can still be prescribed and can successfully treat strabismus.
Diplopia (Double Vision)
People who suffer from vertigo, dizziness, or nausea can occasionally develop diplopia. An eye patch is not always the best treatment for diplopia, but it can sometimes help correct the problem. But you should never wear an eye patch on your own to try to correct a vision problem without seeing a doctor.
Cataracts and Glaucoma
These eye diseases are examples of conditions where an eye patch is not a good treatment, but some people try to use them anyway.
In both of these diseases, there are underlying problems within the eye that an eye patch will not correct, and may in fact make things worse. Again, you should never wear an eye patch to treat a vision problem without first seeing a doctor.
We include this on the list of reasons people wear eye patches because for anyone who has to wear a patch for many hours or days at a time, comfort is the ultimate goal. For a stage actor rehearsing and performing a role or anyone participating in cosplay that requires an eye patch, they will wear it for weeks or perhaps months at a time. They will want a comfortable eye patch, not a plastic one that digs into the side of their face and causes sweating and condensation inside.
For any non-medical reason to wear an eye patch, comfort is king. See 5 ways to get the most comfortable eye patch.