I am on a project where we are implementing show/hide password functionality, and after significant research I discovered the 'Open Eye'/ 'Closed Eye' to be fairly standard.

Once this was implemented someone from our testing department said that the 'Eye' was offensive to Latin, Mediterranean, and Middle eastern cultures.

I am aware of the 'evil' eye etc. but, honestly is this totally ridiculous or is this person on to something?

  • Interesting question, haven't heard of this before.
    – kontur
    Mar 14, 2013 at 20:17
  • 2
    Somebody is way too Freudian... Mar 14, 2013 at 22:08
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    Definitely a sign of trouble in Middle Earth :)
    – obelia
    Mar 15, 2013 at 4:17
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    @obelia And there we have it. It is offensive to hobbits
    – JohnGB
    Mar 15, 2013 at 13:23
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    Here is an alternative: dribbble.com/shots/572686-Dark-Login
    – JOG
    Mar 18, 2013 at 11:23

5 Answers 5


One eye is also a symbol of anti-Christ and this is understood among Arabs and Muslims. Prophet of Islam (PBUH) told his followers that one of the identifiable traits of anti-Christ would be that he would be "one eye blind".

Personally I get an irritating feeling when I see only one eye looking at me. In Icons it may be less intriguing but it is nevertheless not a positive symbol to me.

  • 1
    +1 for the point of view. Would you say that it is commonly understood among some that the glyphish opened/closed eye icon for showing/hiding a typed password is a bad choice? And if so, do you have examples of alternatives?
    – JOG
    Mar 15, 2013 at 8:27
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    Icons, just like words are interpreted according to context. As I mentioned that 16x16 or 32x32 pixels icon in context is less of an offense to me and possibly to many out there.Let me put it the other way around.. an Symbol of Eye as main button to "Enter a site" would be negative and make me skeptical Mar 17, 2013 at 22:12
  • This is a great answer. I had no idea about this particular cultural trait. Would you say, then, that most Muslim cultures would find this symbol offensive? May 9, 2013 at 18:06

Coming from a Latin/Mediterranean culture I don't see how it could be offensive. There are very few idioms and symbols that refer to evil/bad eye and in very specific contexts (swearing, cursing, protecting, etc).

So unless your project is directed at a very specific audience, you should be safe.

  • 3
    +1 Finally we get a real answer from someone from the "inside". Thanks! Mar 14, 2013 at 20:53
  • Thanks @TotemFlare .. that is pretty much what I figured. If it is possibly offensive, then I certainly do not want to use it, but the idea felt quite silly to me to be honest. I just wanted to have some documentation and reference to counter her 'willies' ..
    – pixelneer
    Mar 14, 2013 at 22:28

You are going to be hard pressed to find a symbol (or opinion for that matter) that someone in the world doesn't find offensive. But that is not the point.

Your goal should be to find a symbol that is clear to your target audience. If you can do that well, then unless it's an obvious problem, move on and work on something more important.

I think anyone who has an opinion, and voices it, will offend someone - Peter Steele

  • "I think anyone who has an opinion, and voices it, will offend someone" - True. But the difference is, how many people I could possibly offend. If I look at @Salmans answers, there a quite a few. It depends on your target audience I guess.
    – stefan.s
    Feb 5, 2015 at 7:51
  • @stefan.s And generally the symbol that is the most clear for that is also less offensive.
    – JohnGB
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:31

Is your product supporting, or expected to support, users in international locales? If so, you may want to consider other visuals. If not, it is probably not relevant.

Some companies actually do full product audits for visuals that may be offensive to other cultures (hands/eyes/body parts; some color schemes), or may hold less appeal in international markets.

I once had a user complain about a red star icon I was using for "favorites" functionality - claiming that our product must be communist. It was silly, but that comment still lives with me and I have never used a red star since. :)


As far as I know, carrying a medallion with the evil eye, is meant to protect you against the evil eye. I got one myself, and they sell them to tourists all over Turkey.

You could find some info on wikipedia. As I understand it in the Turkey case, it is not the symbol of the eye that is considered dangerous, but some people with special powers that could "give you the evil eye". And the symbol could protect you, not curse you. So using the symbol would, with that reasoning, be fine. I can unfortunately not help you beyond Turkey, which I think is counted as the Middle East.

Believing in the evil eye is superstitious, and personally, I don't think it would offend anyone more than a symbol of a fish (for Pisces) would offend a Libra.

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    Knowing that it isn't offensive to some Turkish people doesn't answer the question.
    – JohnGB
    Mar 14, 2013 at 20:12
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    Please elaborate. I'll explain myself some more in the text, but unless someone could answer for all cultures in the world, the only "correct" answer would be "yes". We can merely contribute with what we know, and sometimes (eg. in cases of superstition), what we believe.
    – JOG
    Mar 14, 2013 at 20:31
  • The question specified "Latin, Mediterranean, and Middle eastern cultures" Mar 14, 2013 at 20:32
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    CharlesWesley: Are you saying Turkey is not a part of the Middle East? Or that an answer must count for all cultures? As @JohnGB pointed out, there are numerous subcultures, and no one can account for them all. :)
    – JOG
    Mar 14, 2013 at 20:46
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    I honestly do not get the point of any of your comments.
    – JOG
    Mar 15, 2013 at 7:12

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