Why Did Pirates Wear Eyepatches?

Why Did Pirates Wear Eye Patches? Mental Floss from mentalfloss.com

In the twenty-first century, pirates are often portrayed as swashbuckling adventurers, with eye patches, peg legs and parrots. But why did they wear eye patches? It turns out the answer is more mundane than you might expect. In fact, there are several possible explanations, many of which are still debated today.

The Most Popular Theory

The most popular explanation is that pirates wore eye patches to help them adjust to the darkness when entering a cave or a ship. Some pirates had spent a lot of time at sea and so their eyes were accustomed to bright sunlight. When they entered a dark area, it took time for their eyes to adjust to the darkness. By putting an eye patch over one eye, they could keep the other eye adjusted to the dark, allowing them to move around quickly and freely.

Night Vision

Another theory is that pirates wore eye patches to improve their night vision. By covering one eye, they were able to make the other one more sensitive to light, allowing them to see better in the dark. This would have been useful when they were navigating at night or attacking enemy ships in the dark.

Injury Prevention

Some pirates may have worn eye patches to prevent injury or infection. They were often involved in violent battles, and an eye patch could have protected one eye from being damaged. It could also have prevented dirt and dust from entering the eye, reducing the risk of infection.

Injury Treatment

Another possibility is that some pirates may have worn eye patches to treat an existing eye injury. If a pirate had suffered a blow to the eye, or had an eye infection, an eye patch would have provided a clean and comfortable way to protect the eye while it healed.

Fashion Statement

It\’s also possible that some pirates may have worn eye patches as a fashion statement. In the 17th and 18th centuries, eye patches were seen as a symbol of power and mystery, and some pirate captains may have used them to make themselves look more intimidating.

Mystery and Misconceptions

The truth is that we may never know why some pirates wore eye patches. The practice was so widespread that it\’s impossible to know for sure which of the theories is correct. But one thing is certain – the eye patch has become an indelible part of pirate lore, and it\’s unlikely that it will ever lose its mysterious appeal.


Pirates have been wearing eye patches for centuries, and the reasons why are still a matter of debate. Some believe that pirates wore eye patches to help them adjust to the darkness, while others suggest that they may have been used to improve night vision or to protect an existing eye injury. Whatever the reason, the eye patch has become an iconic part of pirate culture, and its mysterious allure is likely to remain for years to come.

Leave a Reply