Why do Pirates have a Love for Eyepatches?

When you look into the popular culture surrounding pirates, three things stand out: peg legs, parrot pets, and eyepatches. Some reasonings are given for the first two, but eyepatches? Why would you actively hide one of your eyes?

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Eyepatches are something that we do not truly understand about pirate culture – we simply know that they were commonly adorned. There are some interesting theories on the topic, though, which can shine a little bit of light on why pirates might wear eyepatches.

Pirates are often associated with eyepatches to cover for the sight that they lost in the heat of treasure plundering and battle. Most of the time, this comes back to a historical recording of a pirate that lost his eye in battle. However, it is not like every pirate sailing the seas somehow managed to lose an eye – that would be both coincidental and strange given how rare an eye loss injury is.

The main theory that is believed about eyepatch-wearing pirates is functionality. When you head underneath the deck of your ship, you often find yourself in a dark and challenging light source – especially on old-school ships. For many pirates, the reason for wearing the eyepatch was so they could adjust their eyes to the light change as they went down below the decks. 

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With one eye, it is easier to adjust to the light source and thus find your way around without tripping over the rum stash. It is also believed that this practice lived on in other naval units, with the Second World War seeing many naval soldiers trained with one eye covered with an eyepatch to improve their visibility in the darkness.

So, while it seems like many pirates wore the eyepatch for fashionable purposes, it would appear that most wore them to simply help them adjust their eyes as they moved into the darkness of the ship. While we are never likely to know without being able to travel back in time, this is the prevailing and most accepted theory today.