Pirate Eye Patch: What’s The Reason Behind This?

Have you ever wondered how the pirate eye patch started?

Pirate Eye Patch – Pirates are commonly depicted with an eye patch to complete their fighter look and with their pet parrots and their so-called “Arrrgh” expression.

Pirates are among the common inspirations for costume parties and Halloween costumes. There is a certain way in which they are depicted in movies and television shows. However, based on the article in Mental Floss, there is more than the fighter vibe behind their eye patches which has nothing to do with a missing eye.

The eye patch actually makes them see better, especially when they are above decks and below them. Jim Sheedy, a doctor of vision science and director of the Vision Performance Institute at Oregon’s Pacific University, explained that eyes adapt quickly when going from darkness to light but studies have shown that it can take up to 25 minutes for them to adapt when going from bright light to darkness. This requires the regeneration of photo pigments.

pirate eye patch
Ancient Origins

Pirates have to go above and below decks on their ships, from daylight to near darkness. Sheedy said that it is a smart move for pirates to wear a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted outside. When a pirate goes below decks, he can switch the patch to the outdoor eye and this will allow him to see in the darkness easily.

On the other hand hand, there is no historical proof from a first-person source that could support this. However, keeping one eye on dark-adapted works is a fact and there is no question of this.

MythBusters tested this hypothesis in their pirate special in 2007 and the result was plausible but the lack of historical sources cannot confirm this.

Even though a bright light may shine in one eye, the other will retain its dark adaptation, if it is protected from the light. This is a useful bit of information, because a flyer can preserve dark adaptation in one eye by simply closing it,” one military manual for pilots stated.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has this recommendation to pilots: “A pilot should close one eye when using a light to preserve some degree of night vision.”

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