To American athletes and fans, eye black is a staple in our sports culture, you see athletes wearing it all the time, but do you know why?
Eye black has been around for centuries but Babe Ruth reportedly started the trend in sports by smearing grease under his eyes during afternoon baseball games to reduce glare. It is also reported to have first shown up in football in the 1930’s and 40’s. The use of it by a few athletes was enough for it to catch on. At this early stage eye black was very primal, with the primary source coming from a simple cork. The athletes would burn the end of the cork and smear the ashes under their eyes. This eventually led to the use of a black petroleum based grease.
Why it is placed under the eye?
All light, whether it be natural or artificial can be reflected off of a surface and create a glare. This can happen both indoors and out. What many people do not know is that one of the strongest reflectors of light is one’s own skin, particularly the area under the eye. The human eye is recessed with a cheekbone underneath that is covered by smooth reflective skin. Your eyes are naturally trained to ignore the extended cheek during normal daily vision. However, if you introduce a direct light source to the cheek a distracting glare is created by the reflection of the light into the eye, often resulting in the need to squint. Squinting reduces your field of vision while reducing clarity. In a fast paced sporting event this glare can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
So how do you reduce the glare, reduce squinting and improve your field of vision?
EyeBlack. The use of eye black continued to grow amongst the athletic community and the distribution became more commercialized. There were many companies that produced various forms of eye black ranging from grease in a tube to black patches. The primary deficiencies of existing forms of eye black were that it smears all over uniforms or falls off when the athlete sweats. This was not lost on the company EyeBlack who developed a patented EyeBlack patch made from a safe and tested 3M medical grade tape, allowing athletes to have all of the advantages of eye black without any of the negative drawbacks. At EyeBlack this is what we do for a living; we have researched this, conducted multiple field tests, consulted with athletic trainers, equipment managers, coaches and athletes all focused in on making the best product possible with the most functionality.