Eyeglasses | Optical Centre VisionDirect AU

An Introduction to Pinhole Glasses 


Wondering what pinhole glasses are? Here is a guide to the essentials. Find out what they are, how they work, who uses them, and how to make your own!


Pinhole Glasses: What Are They?


Have you ever seen a pair of glasses, where instead of clear lenses, there are pieces of black plastic, with lots of tiny holes in them? If so, you have come across pinhole glasses. They are also known as stenopeic glasses, and are essentially made up of hundreds of small holes in a grid formation. The idea is that the glasses reduce the indirect rays of light landing on your eyes, and therefore help them focus more clearly. 


How Do Pinhole Glasses Work?


First consider how glasses and contact lenses work. If someone has a vision impairment, the likelihood is that the rays of light that enter the eye converge either behind or in front of the retina. Glasses lenses therefore refract the rays to make them converge on the centre of the retina. Once this is achieved, the person’s clarity of vision will be vastly improved. 


Pinhole glasses work very differently to this. Instead of maneuvering the rays of light, pinhole spectacles simply reduce the number of rays that penetrate the eye. This eliminates the unfocused rays of light that normally hit the eye and cause blurriness. This technique is similar to the effect created by squinting. It is known as the pinhole effect, which is the same concept that pinhole cameras are based on. According to opticians, limiting the amount of light that enters the pupils reduces the field of the “blur circle” at the rear of the retina. As a result, visual clarity can be improved when less light is allowed in.


For a quick lesson on how the eye works, which is helpful for understanding the pinhole effect, see here


When Are Pinhole Glasses Used?


Funnily enough, these glasses are rarely used by people with vision impairments. Ironically, the most common users of pinhole glasses are opticians. This is because pinhole glasses can be used to efficiently determine if a patient is suffering from certain problems with their sight. 


The most effective way for opticians to spot a vision impairment with pinhole glasses is to cover one lens completely. This is known as an occluder. Then the patient will describe how clearly they can see through the pinhole lenses in each individual eye. This exercise can also be carried out without the occluder, and can teach the optician what symptoms the patient is feeling, which could be related to various infections or optical damage.


A key use for pinhole glasses in the optical world is to diagnose cataracts or corneal distortion. The evaluation for such impairments involves focusing light on the eye to see what goes on behind the cataract. This can greatly help in determining whether surgery is needed to improve the work of the cataract.


Do Pinhole Glasses Work?


There are people out there that believe pinhole glasses prove useful outside the opticians office. They claim that the glasses can help people that suffer with nearsightedness, farsightedness or be used as glasses for astigmatism. It is true that while wearing the glasses, someone with these impairments will be able to see more clearly. This is especially the case with astigmatism, which is diagnosed when the rays of light that enter the eye are unable to meet in the right place. So when pinhole glasses reduce the amount of light coming in, the clarity of vision improves. However, the image may appear dimmer than usual. Pinhole lenses also block part of your direct and peripheral vision, rendering them impractical for everyday use, and very unsafe for activities like driving. It is therefore hard to justify the theory that pinhole eyeglasses can act as “astigmatism glasses”, and act as a solution to vision impairments. There is also a distinct lack of evidence to suggest that pinhole glasses can “cure” issues with vision, as the problems will return the second the pinhole specs are removed. Essentially, pinhole glasses can only act as a very temporary solution, which is what makes them ideal for use by opticians.


Others believe that combining eye exercises with the regular wearing of pinhole glasses can permanently improve eyesight. Admittedly, there are a couple of rare sight conditions that can be improved with eye exercises. Nevertheless, there is no evidence to suggest that routine eye care problems like near or farsightedness can be reduced with exercises. It is merely a myth created by companies trying to sell pinhole frames. 


Yet another extreme case of wishful thinking is the theory that wearing pinhole glasses for a certain period of time each day can improve overall vision over time. Unfortunately for near or farsighted people, this is not true. There is no conclusive evidence, not even a clinical trial, that proves this idea to be true. Your best bet is therefore to stick with prescription contact lenses or glasses.


A final misconception involving pinhole glasses is that they can be used to reduce eyestrain. There is a myth that if you are looking at a screen all day, pinhole frames can be used to eliminate the glare entering your eyes. However, a study carried out in 2017 found that pinhole lenses actually increase eyestrain, particularly if you try to read while wearing them. Working with pinhole glasses on can easily lead to headache as a result of the increased eye strain. The better solution to glare from a computer screen is therefore to buy blue light blocking glasses. For other remedies to eye strain, take a look at this article here.  


Make Your Own Pinhole Glasses


If you are looking for an easy activity to do with the kids during the holidays, or are curious to see what wearing pinhole specs is like, you can make your own. Just follow these simple steps to learn how to make pinhole glasses.


Grab an old pair of glasses frames and wrap them with aluminium foil. You can then use a sewing needle or pin to poke holes in the material. (Be sure not to make the holes while wearing the glasses!)


And ta-da! The best pinhole glasses, made by you! 


The Key Points to Remember:


  • Pinhole glasses reduce the amount of light hitting your eye in order to bring objects into focus. 

  • They are mostly used by opticians to decipher whether or not a patient is suffering from a visual impairment.

  • Pinhole specs should not be used for any activity where sight is an essential. They block so much of your vision, that wearing them can prove dangerous when driving, doing housework, or operating machinery.

  • It is not advisable to use pinhole glasses for focusing on intricate tasks, whether it be sewing or reading. This can increase eye strain.

  • You may find some companies recommending pinhole frames as a treatment for visual impairments, but there is no medical evidence to support this.


Shop Eyewear with SmartBuyGlasses


Instead of dreaming that pinhole glasses will improve your eyesight temporarily or over time, invest in a lovely pair of glasses or contact lenses instead. SmartBuyGlasses has one of the largest collections on the market. You can find everything from reading glasses to polarized sunglasses, designer fashion statements to ski goggles. You can shop the biggest brands such as Ray-Ban, Tom Ford and Gucci. Or you can grab everyday glasses for the tiniest prices in our SmartBuy Collection. Whatever your budget, you will be guaranteed the best price. Additionally, you can customize the lenses to suit your prescription, and you can add on additional lens coatings for extra benefits like blue light protection. 


As for contact lenses, there are dailies or monthlies, varifocals or coulored lenses. The options are endless! 


Plus, when you shop with us, you can use our virtual try on tool to try before you buy. You will also have 100 days to return if you need to, and a 2 year warranty. 


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