When I was in high school and shooting B&W regularly I could estimate exposure well enough that I only occasionally used a light meter to double check when I thought that conditions were odd. Eyes adjusting had nothing to do with it because I was feeling the conditions and not trying to read the relative light mentally.

I will say that growing up in Los Angeles this was a bit easier because the weather and light was always dependable so once I got used to seeing the meter I eventually just stopped with it. More variable places will take longer and you'd have to shoot way more to get used to the wider variety.

I can't repeat it now because I shoot nowhere near enough to get that deep a feel for the conditions anymore.