Nugget of Knowledge: Reason why a pirate wears an eye patch


It doesn't have anything to do with missing eyes or blindness

(WYTV) – Picture a pirate. Not a Pittsburgh Pirate, a real pirate. You’ll most likely see him wearing an eye patch — but why?

Did they have a missing eye? Some may have, but most pirates did not wear eye patches because they were blind in that eye or missing one. The eye behind the patch was perfectly good.

They covered one eye to see better in the dark.

This nugget comes to us from the Wall Street Journal and the Vision Performance Institute at Oregon’s Pacific University.

When moving from a bright, well-lit area to a dark area, your eyes take some time to adapt to the darkness. This is called dark adapting and it can take up to 25 minutes if you’re moving from extreme light to extreme darkness.

So how does it help pirates?

They were bosses, moving above and below decks on their ships. By wearing an eye patch, they’d have one eye constantly dark-adapted.

If they stepped down into some dark hold, they could just switch their eye patch, which would make their sight in the darkness far better than someone with no eye patch and no dark-adapted eye.

Try it for yourself. Turn the lights off in one room of your house and cover one eye with your hand while standing in a lit room. Go into the dark room, uncover your eye and you’ll notice just how much of a difference this makes compared to what it would be like if none of your eyes were covered.

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