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Why did pirates wear eye patches?

Updated on October 6, 2011

With the recent advent of movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean with the likes of lovable pirate Jack Sparrow, pirates have once again come into the limelight.

Pirates have a legendary history of fighting tooth and nail to steal and plunder, while wearing an eye patch and talking to a highly intelligent parrot that sits atop their shoulder.

However not all pirates wore eye patches or had parrots. And of course, an eye patch is an interesting article of attire which is hard to explain away with a simple 'I lost an eye so I had to wear a patch' explanation. So why on earth did pirates wear an eye patch?

Keep reading to discover and explore the reasons that many claim pirates wore eye patches.

Reasons Why Pirates Wore Eye Patches

There are a variety of reasons that pirates are said to have worn eye patches, but here are some of the most credible explanations.

  • The patch was to cover an eye socket after they lost an eye in a pirate battle.
  • Wearing the patch confused and threw off  enemies, who believed them to be disabled or not quite on their game.
  • Since pirates often fought both in the dark of a ship's hold as well as in the light on deck, wearing an eye patch would allow them to remove it in the dark and not have to wait for their eyes to adjust to the lack of light - meaning they wouldn't be easily snuck up on in the dark of the ships bowels.
  • Young pirates would wear an eye patch as proof they'd been involved in a battle - since without experience it could be harder to find a suitable pirate company to join.

Pirate skull photo by emberflylayouts

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      Mike Pua 

      8 years ago

      Now that explains why they wear eye patches! I expected one answer but you did great in listing the possible reasons. Thanks for the info :)

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