Wearing an eye patch is a commonly prescribed treatment for eye problems and injuries. Eye patches are worn following eye surgery, or following an injury like a corneal abrasion (a scratch to the surface of the eye). Daily eye patch use may be prescribed for a patient diagnosed with amblyopia (lazy eyes) or strabismus (crossed eyes), as covering the strong eye will require use (and strengthening) of the weak eye. There are three basic types of eye patches: adhesive eye patches that adhere to the skin around the eye; eye patches that attach to eyeglasses and fabric eye patches that are worn with a strap around the head.
Adjust the eye patch for comfort. For a fabric patch, adjust the head strap so it fits comfortably around the head. The strap should be just tight enough to hold the patch in place. An eye patch strap that's too tight will cause a headache or uncomfortable friction on the face and scalp.
Place a piece of gauze over the eye to keep the eyelid closed. Many eye patches do not directly contact the eyelid, particularly in the case of an individual with deep-set eyes. This means the individual may instinctively keep the eye open under the eye patch, leading to discomfort and delayed healing. The gauze will stay in contact with the eyelid, keeping the eye closed.
Put the eye patch on the affected eye and if necessary, set a timer or alarm clock. Setting a timer can be helpful when using an eye patch to treat strabismus or amblyopia, as the eye patch will need to be worn for a specific amount of time each day.
Avoid driving, bicycling and other potentially dangerous activities that require good depth perception while wearing the eye patch. Good depth perception requires the use of two eyes, so wearing an eye patch has a dramatic effect on depth perception. Children and elderly individuals should be kept away from stairs to avoid falls while the eye patch is in place.
Remove the eye patch at the end of the prescribed daily session or at night if the eye patch is worn following an injury or surgery. This will help limit irritation from the eye patch strap or from the adhesive in the case of an adhesive eye patch.
Apply hydrocortisone cream to any areas of skin irritation caused by the adhesive on an eye patch. The skin irritation is usually the result of an allergic reaction to the adhesive and hydrocortisone cream will treat that reaction.
If irritation occurs from adhesive eye patches, switch to a fabric patch or use scissors to trim the band of adhesive to lessen the width of the adhesive area. Less adhesive will contact the skin, resulting in less irritation. Hypoallergenic adhesive eye patches may be a good option for patients with sensitive skin.