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A man wearing an eye patch.

Learning to Live with One Good Eye

Recently a member of our site asked a question: “Can I wear a patch on my bad eye in order to see better?” This really got me to thinking and researching this topic. My initial reaction was to reject the idea as unwise.

A little of my background is in order here

I have had AMD for 9 years, dry in one eye and wet in the other. More than 80 injections in my wet eye has it testing at 20/40. Paradoxically my dry eye was 20/30 for most of these 9 years but has just recently gone into GA (geographic atrophy) and now tests at 20/300, legally blind. Bummer indeed!

Yeah... so?

So I am legally blind in one eye and see 20/40 in my “good eye”. Little tasks that previously I would do on autopilot now require some extra effort on my part. Example: zipping up the zipper on my jacket. I find myself closing my bad eye (like when you wink) and by so doing, I find it easier to zip up my zipper. In essence, I’m using an eyelid as an eye patch, you get me?

Losing vision in one eye is called monocular vision loss

And guess what? There is help available to those of us that are in this pickle! Yep, it’s found under vision rehabilitation services or perhaps low vision specialists. They are usually OD’s otherwise known as optometrists who are highly trained in matters of low vision. In my case, monocular vision.

Can an eye patch help?

So, back to that guy's question, can using an eye patch be helpful?

I’m sort of afraid to try this as I think the brain somehow compensates for differing vision in one eye. It makes me think I would become totally dependent on this practice. It is a significant idea though and one I will ask my vision rehab OD doc about.

Monocular vision adjustment takes time

Studies have shown that adults who lose the sight in one eye have some of the following difficulties. The ability to track moving objects, judge distances, and perceive depth. (They’re talking about me here 👀.) That means I will have to learn how to consciously use one eye and my other senses to gather information that used to come effortlessly with two eyes.

Visual training activities and rehabilitation

The automatic pilot no longer works automatically. This is where the professionals in vision rehab come in. Visual training activities help. Some examples:

  • Reaching for and grasping certain articles. Both the speed and the accuracy of the grasp is negatively affected by the loss of binocular vision.
  • Adults who lose vision in one eye have more collisions while walking, especially on the side where they lost the vision. That’s where sessions with an orientation and mobility specialist can help.
  • ”Motion parallax” is the technique of helping monocular vision people to judge distance. If you’ve ever seen a cat moving its head or eyes side to side before jumping, that’s motion parallax.
  • Learning new techniques to drive safely with vision in only one eye is often covered by the vision rehab specialist.

There is help out there

There is help out there for those of us who are struggling, I have my first appointment with a low vision rehab center in about a month. And you can be assured I will report back to you on what I find.  Wishing us all well on our shared eye health journey.

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