Following a viral infection, the right side of my face has been paralyzed for the past six weeks. The doctor feels the nerve damage is permanent. Facial paralysis, a/k/a Bell's Palsy brings with it a host of daily inconveniences, and I was hoping design would solve at least one of them, but so far I'm having no luck.
When one side of your face is paralyzed, eating, drinking and brushing your teeth become difficult; liquid doesn't want to stay in your mouth, and when you cannot open wide enough to admit food properly, much of it ends up on your face. But these, along with the unattractive aesthetic effect of having a half-frozen face, are minor inconveniences. The real danger is to my eye and vision.
Because I cannot properly close my right eye, it dries out and must be lubricated dozens of times a day.
More problematically, it's under constant threat of foreign objects. If some speck of matter gets into my eye, it is not only unbelievably painful, but very difficult and time-consuming to flush out. A multitude of farm chores--working a chainsaw, using power tools, using hand tools, mowing the grass, mucking out a coop--all regularly result in something eventually getting into my eye. It's why I wear eyeglasses to correct my vision (and not contacts), as low-grade safety goggles.
In the past I took blinking out dust for granted, but that's no longer an option. The doctor has ordered me to wear an eyepatch to seal the eye off for protection.
The problem is that a conventional eyepatch is not compatible with eyeglasses. There are some solutions on the market, none of which I find tenable. For instance, this over-the-eyeglasses patch obscures vision, but does not provide a seal against dust.
Ditto with this under-the-eyeglasses patch. Made from leather, it does not conform precisely to your face and is intended primarily for obscuring vision, not sealing against dust.
Children who need patches are often given these adhesive variants, which both seal the eye completely and fit neatly under spectacles.
The problem with these is that they are hot and uncomfortable, are not easy to take on and off, and the adhesive leaves a troubling amount of residue behind that must be carefully cleaned off, particularly from your eyelashes, so that the residue doesn't wind up in the eye.
Aimed at children, the $208 kit comes with a lot of things I don't need--a stuffed toy, a storybook, and a colorful lens cover to visually obscure the most important part of the kit: This silicone doodad.
The silicone bit contains a suction cup on one end that sticks to the inside of an eyeglass lens. The other end is shaped to cover and seal the eye completely. Ventilation slits in the side allow air, though I'm not sure if that would be a problem with airborne sawdust.
The two things that give me pause: 1) The eye-covering part of the device is shaped in a one-size-fits-all manner, giving me little faith that the seal will be perfect. 2) I already have trouble with glasses sliding down my nose, and I'm sure the weight of this object, however small, would only contribute. If my glasses slide down my nose, bringing this object with it, there's no longer a seal.
To me, it seems the ideal solution would be to get a 3D face scan, like with these facemasks, then have an item similar to this fabricated from silicone. I suppose a headband connected to the stems of the glasses would prevent the sliding-down problem, though that then makes them more difficult to don and doff.
At $20 they were affordable and they seal the eye completely; wearing them I was able to use a circular saw to break down sheet goods for a cabinetry project, and finally run the mower across our overgrown pastures and safely withstand those wind-blasts of dirt to the face.
On the downside, they become uncomfortable after about 30-45 minutes, and they obscure your peripheral vision; when mowing around animals, for instance, I have to do a lot more head-swiveling. But for now I can't find a better alternative.