Pediatric Ophthalmology Consultants

Living with One Good Eye

After a loss of vision in one eye, a person can still live a full and productive life at whatever the age of the loss occurs. Children growing with only one good eye never know the difference and develop and learn along with their age groups. Older children or adults who suddenly lose vision in one eye will go through a readjustment period, but generally, continue to lead a personally satisfying and active lifestyle.

President Woodrow Wilson served eight years as President after losing the vision in his left eye. The great athlete babe Ruth was “one-eyed” with 20/200 vision in his left eye due to severe amblyopia (lazy eye). Several popular television star and entertainers have good vision in only one eye.

Vision Loss

From childhood through middle adult life, eye injuries are the leading cause of vision loss. In later adult life, age-related changes such as glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration become the leading causes of blindness. Once vision is irreversible impaired in one eye, taking care of the remaining good eye becomes extremely important. All possible protection measures should be taken to preserve the vision in the good eye. Any loss of vision in the remaining good eye may cause:

  • Difficulty reading
  • Loss of job
  • Loss of driver’s license
  • Loss of recreational skills
  • Legal (less than 20/200) or total blindness
  • Eye Protection

Protection of the remaining good eye cannot be stressed enough! At any age, appropriate eye protection should be worn at all times during work, play and in sports or hobby activities. Children especially should be taught the importance of protecting their eyes and avoiding unnecessary risks.

For everyday protection, impact-resistant spectacles with sturdy frames are sufficient. Polycarbonate lenses are recommended because polycarbonate is a particularly strong material. Impact-resistant glasses can be made in many pleasing styles.

Once they are needed, protective eyeglasses should be worn for the remainder of one’s life, even if no prescription is necessary for the correction of vision. Contact lenses alone should NOT be used because they do not offer the same protection from injury.

Sports Participation

Young, active people are at higher risk for eye accidents and sports injuries. Protective eye equipment should always be used for sports. While the risk of eye injuries does vary with the type of sports activity, comparing “contact” and “none contact” sports offer little guidance regarding eye safety. Racquetball, for example, is considered a “non contact” sport even though the risk to the eye is high.

Participating in sports requires a full understanding of the risks involved and proper eye protection. For a young child, the parents must participate in making such decisions.

Examples of high risk sports that should be avoided are:

  • Boxing
  • Wrestling
  • Full contact martial arts
  • Work and Recreation

Many work and recreation activities carry risk of eye injury. The appropriate eye protection should be worn. Loose objects such as pencils, sticks or particles thrown by tools can be a threat to the eye.

Industrial safety glasses, side shields, full face shields or even special goggles may be necessary for some activities. As in sports, certain industrial or hobby activities (e.g. fireworks) may present such a high risk to the eyes that they should be avoided by the person with one “good” eye.

Just as automobiles are fact of modern life, so are automobile accidents. Protective eye wear and seat belts should always be worn so that the eyes are less likely to be bruised or cut in case of impact.

American Academy of Ophthalmology

The Eye M.D Association

Maintaining a healthy eye

The better or remaining eye does not “wear out” or “work harder”, even though it provides most or all of a person’s vision. Nevertheless, regular eye examinations by an ophthalmologist are even more important than for the normal sighted person. Examinations should be on a schedule recommended by our ophthalmologist or at any time new symptoms or problems develop.

In conclusion

An active and satisfying lifestyle is still possible for someone with good vision in only one eye. Proper eye protection, common sense and regular medical eye examinations are necessary to help ensure a full and productive life.


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