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We all know what pirates look like
A simple Google search will show you some guys wearing a humongous hat, a big flowing
beard, a hook attached to one arm and the trademark eye patch covering one of their
eyes. Most of us have grown up thinking that pirates
use their eye patch as a cover up to hide an eye they lost in a battle. But that’s not the only purpose of that
eye patch! And it isn’t even possible for all pirates
to have lost one eye. So why do pirates wear an eye patch? Most pirates wear an eye patch to make their
eyes accustomed to both light and darkness at the same time. The human eye takes nearly 20 minutes to fully
adjust from bright sunlight to complete darkness and while in the middle of a fierce fight,
pirates cannot afford to lose even a few seconds due to these changes in light. When a pirate is out on the deck under direct
sunlight, he keeps the eye patch on one of his eyes which conditions that eye to adapt
to darkness while the uncovered eye is adjusted to the bright outdoor light. While fighting a battle, should the pirate
need to go downstairs, where the level of light is relatively lower, he switches the
eye patch to the other eye, and now he’s instantly able to see in the dark through the eye which
was already conditioned to darkness. This happens due to a phenomenon called Adaptation. The extent of light which enters the eye is
controlled by the aperture or the size of the pupil which can range from 2 millimeters
to 8 millimeters. When in a bright environment, the pupils are
narrower and become wider in darkness. This mechanism is called the Pupillary Peflex
or PLR. This is the reason why we find it difficult
to see immediately after entering a dark room but gradually get our vision back. There are two types of photoreceptors in the
human eye called Rods and Cones. Rods are responsible for vision at lower light
levels which is also known as Scotopic vision whereas cones are active for higher levels
of light, known as Photopic vision. By intentionally depriving one eye from light,
pirates manage to obtain Scotopic vision in one eye and Photopic vision in the other. Enabling them to instantly adapt to the changes
in light. This simple yet efficient body hack has been
used by pirates from as early as their origin. Even today, this has its applications in different
places, the most common being in commercial jetliners .
If you are a regular flier, you must have noticed that every time prior to takeoff or
landing, the crew dims the cabin lights. While some people think of this as a way to
provide extra power to the engines, it is actually a safety procedure that has to be
followed by all the airlines across the globe. The purpose of dimming the lights it to allow
the eyes of the passengers to adapt to the dark setting outside the aircraft so in case
of an emergency evacuation on the runway, passengers don’t lose vital time coping
with the sudden change in brightness and evacuate the plane safely. The use of dim lights is not limited to airplanes. It is used wherever there’s a large gathering
and the possibility of a drastic change in brightness. Pirates are amazing and have always fascinated
us. So the next time you plan to don that cool
pirate look, don’t forget the essential eye patch!

James Carver

8 Replies to “Why do Pirates wear an Eye Patch?”

  1. I actually were an eyepatch that has a type of cloth on the inside of it that stops me from having a reaction from pollen, it only happens in my right eye

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