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Pinhole Glasses | A Different Approach to Improving Vision

Pinhole glasses feature tiny, pin-sized holes throughout their lenses. They shield the eyes from indirect light, which can help people to see more clearly. 

These glasses were created in an attempt to improve vision by using these tiny holes on the lenses to concentrate light onto specific points of the visual field. The idea was that this would allow easier management of mild refractive errors in a way that was affordable and accessible. Unfortunately, few experts believe that they are actually effective for that purpose. 

While some people say that pinhole glasses have helped them to address certain kinds of refractive errors minimally, these glasses cannot treat any eye disorders and are not a reliable solution to vision issues.

What Are Pinhole Glasses? 

Pinhole glasses are a purported eyewear solution that promise to enable people to see small details more clearly. Unlike conventional lenses that allow in all light, pinhole lenses feature tiny holes that only let in narrow beams of light. This is said to help wearers focus on smaller details and see them more clearly. 

Pinhole glasses are not a replacement for traditional prescription glasses. Although some people say that pinhole glasses improve their ability to see small details in specific instances when needed, the effect is only temporary and most people see no improvement at all. 

How Do Pinhole Glasses Work?

Pinhole glasses mimic pinhole cameras by blocking out unfocused light while allowing only a single focused beam of light through the lens. This is said to make tiny details easier to see. 

While this is effective for capturing images with a camera, it has not been shown to be a good way to manage problems with seeing small items for people.

What Are Pinhole Glasses Used for?

Pinhole glasses are intended to correct mild refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They’re often advertised as short-term visual aids that may assist individuals when performing activities that require clear focus on tiny details.

Pinhole glasses are frequently advertised to those who do not qualify for vision correction surgery and who only need glasses or contact lenses occasionally. 

Many people have reported using pinhole glasses to exercise their eyes, improve vision, and alleviate eye strain. However, scientific data doesn’t back up this claim or show any real value to these glasses, no matter how minimal the refractive errors are.

What Are the Pros & Cons of Pinhole Glasses?

Pinhole glasses are said to provide numerous advantages by those who believe that they work in isolated circumstances, but in most cases, users will find little benefit.

Pros of Pinhole Glass

  • Pinhole glasses may alleviate mild refractive errors temporarily.
  • Some people report that they see a clearer and sharper image when looking at small details.
  • Pinhole glasses are said to provide an alternative solution for individuals who are unable to undergo corrective surgery or wear traditional eyewear, including contact lenses. Pinhole glasses are not sold as a long-term solution, however.

Cons of Pinhole Glasses

  • Pinhole glasses can reduce light, which could make it harder to see clearly in low light or at night.
  • Pinhole glasses do not address the underlying cause of refractive errors. They are merely a short-term fix if they work at all.
  • Most people find it uncomfortable to wear pinhole glasses for any period of time. 
  • Some people report that pinhole glasses cause discomfort in their eyes and blurry vision.
  • Though they can be helpful in a limited fashion for very few people, pinhole glasses are never a substitute for prescription eyeglasses or contacts.
  • Pinhole glasses are not suitable for use by children, nor are they recommended for use by people who have cataracts, glaucoma, or other serious eye conditions.

Do Pinhole Glasses Actually Improve Eyesight? 

Pinhole glasses have been anecdotally reported to improve eyesight to some extent in some users, especially in cases of mild refractive errors. 

The efficacy of pinhole glasses depends on the severity of the refractive error and the individual. The more severe the problem, the less likely it is that pinhole glasses will yield the desired effect, even temporarily. 

Speak to a doctor before trying pinhole glasses. They can advise you on the best course forward, as using these glasses may harm your vision rather than help.

Pinhole Glasses FAQs 

Do pinhole glasses really work?

There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that pinhole glasses are effective for any purpose, and there is quite a bit of evidence that says the opposite is true. It is especially important to note that pinhole glasses will not heal refractive errors like myopia. In some cases, their use can cause eye strain. 

It’s recommended that you discuss pinhole glasses with your eye doctor before trying them to avoid accidentally worsening your vision.

Do pinhole glasses improve vision in cataract cases?

Even though some people report that use of pinhole glasses can be mildly helpful for brief periods of time, there is no entity that supports their use for improving vision for people with cataracts. The issues related to cataracts are very different than those related to traditional refractive errors.

How do you make pinhole glasses?

It’s easy to make your own pinhole glasses. Start by gathering the following materials:
– A pair of eyeglass frames (an old pair of glasses or cheap frames)
– Black electrical tape
– Aluminum foil
– A needle or pin
– Scissors

Follow these steps:
1. Remove the lenses from the frames if needed.
2. Cut a piece of aluminum foil that’s a little bit larger than the hole in the glasses frames.1.
3. Make a small hole in the center of the foil with a pin.
4. Use electrical tape to secure the foil over one lens openings in the eyeglass frames.
5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 on the other side.
6. Try on the pinhole glasses and fix the foil, so the holes are directly in front of your pupils.

Before making and using pinhole glasses regularly, talk to your eye doctor, especially if you have a diagnosis for an eye disorder to make sure that you will not inadvertently worsen your vision problem.

References

Pinhole Glasses. (January 2008). Kansas State University.

The Potential of the Pinhole as a Visual Aid in the Developing World. (August 2016). African Vision and Eye Health.

Myopia (Nearsightedness). American Optometric Association.

Comparison of Objective and Subjective Changes Induced by Multiple Pinhole Glasses and Single-Pinhole Glasses. (March 2017). Journal of Korean Medical Science.

Quantitative Analysis of Functional Changes Caused by Pinhole Glasses. (October 2014). Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

The Evaluation of Pinhole Glasses as Visual Therapy in Improving Refractive Error. (December 2018). International Journal of Allied Health Sciences.

Not Yet Ready for Cataract Surgery? Try These Tips. (June 2021). Harvard Medical School.
Clinical Feasibility of Pinhole Glasses in Presbyopia. (March 2019). European Journal of Ophthalmology.

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