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How pinhole glasses can improve your vision

Updated on August 21, 2013

Improving your sight

Millions of people have eye problems, ranging from slight blurriness to near blindness. Most think there is nothing they can do about it, but for some conditions, there are methods that can help strengthen eye muscles.

When your eyes are placed behind normal prescription glasses, you fall into a trap where you no longer use the focusing muscles in your eyes to the fullest. This important ciliary muscle begins to weaken, requiring visits to your eye doctor for stronger and stronger glasses. You can reverse this downhill slide and help develop your eye muscles now by using pinhole glasses.

The moment you put on pinhole glasses you will notice instant clarity and focused vision. Pinholes can be used as Sunglasses, Computer Glasses, Myopia Prevention Glasses and for those with Cataracts or Corneal Damage. On this page we'll tell you all about them.

And they start at only $25, so they make a great gift!

How do they work?

Pinhole glasses (also known as stenopeic glasses from the Greek words for "little opening") are not made of glass at all but of an opaque substance such as metal or plastic. The user looks through any of the many small holes in the material. These holes have the effect of reducing the width of the bundle of diverging rays (called a "pencil of light") coming from each point on the viewed object. Normally, the full opening of the pupil admits light. It is the improper bending of the outermost rays in that pencil of light which causes refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (diminished focusing range with age) and astigmatism to be noticeable. Pinholes can bring about clearer vision in all these conditions. By blocking these peripheral rays, and only letting into the eye those rays which pass through the central portion of the pupil, any refractive error in the lens or cornea is not noticed as much. The pupil may be wide open, but only the central portion is receiving light. The improvement in visual acuity can be striking.

Look at this drawing of a myopic eye with a pinhole lens in front of it. You will see that the eye does not need to deal with the rays that would need the most bending since they are blocked by the lens. It is said that Scheiner first described this effect in 1573. Those who are familiar with cameras will recognize that this is the same principle used to increase the depth of focus by decreasing the aperture. Pinhole cameras also operate by this principle.

An easy way to demonstrate this is to make a fist and put it up to one eye while closing the other eye. Open the fist just enough to create a small hole to look through. If you have a refractive error, you should see more clearly this way. This same improvement in the vision takes place when someone squints to see more clearly. The upper and lower eyelids cut off the rays that would normally enter the top and bottom of the pupil and the vision improves somewhat. Since there is no similar way to cut off rays entering the sides of the pupil, these rays still contribute to the blurred vision. Looking through pinhole glasses instead of squinting cuts off the peripheral rays from all sides. Since the glasses are so close to the eye, the material between the holes is greatly out of focus and is not as disturbing as one might think. After a period of getting used to the glasses, the brain tends to ignore the presence of the material.

Also of interest is that the farther away the viewed object is, the less the pinholes are noticed. The honeycomb effect of the holes is more noticeable when viewing a book held close to the eyes, because the eyes are focused just a short distance in front of the glasses. When looking at a distant TV, however, the holes are hardly visible at all since the eyes are focused much farther away. Also, because of the distance, you can view the entire TV screen through one hole, an obvious benefit.

Looking through the teeth of a comb held in front of the eyes is another way to simulate the pinhole effect. The native people of Alaska have long used this principle by wearing glasses with narrow slits to look through, thus blocking out much of the glare from the sunshine reflecting off the snow and ice. Anyone who remains in this environment for long periods during the summer without protection can suffer from snow blindness. This painful condition forces the person to discontinue the use of the eyes until healing can take place. This is nature's way of protecting the eyes from permanent damage.

Pinholes cannot replace prescription glasses in every situation. People with over 6 diopters of myopia will probably not find pinholes useful, because pinholes cannot eliminate all of the blur. And just as it would be risky to wear ordinary glasses in situations where they could be broken and damage the eyes, there are situations where using pinholes instead of prescription glasses is not advisable. Use common sense and only wear the pinholes when the limited view does not pose a risk.

One group that should not use pinholes, or any glasses that reduce accommodation (focusing effort), is young people who are very farsighted. These people need to accommodate as much as possible in order to reduce their farsightedness to a lower level. This is nature's dynamic method of refining visual acuity in the growing youngster and it should not be defeated.

Can pinholes improve vision?

With what we now know about the environmental cause of acquired myopia, we can make the claim that pinholes have a legitimate use in myopia prevention. When used for reading or other close work, pinholes reduce the amount of accommodation or focusing power that the eye must use to see clearly.

There is an abundant amount of research that points the finger at excessive accommodation as the cause of acquired myopia. It is clear that anything that can reduce this accommodative effort, including pinhole glasses, is a useful weapon in retaining good vision. It is for this reason, and the fact that those in the optical business want nothing to do with them, that we have decided to promote the use of pinholes on this website.

These glasses could be a major tool in preventing myopia. Pinholes are harmless; minus lenses MUST be avoided. Some day in the future, putting minus lenses on a young child will be a criminal act. People who don't deserve the title doctor go through life unconcerned about the devastation of ruined vision they leave in their wake.

Pinhole specifications

We do not and will not imply that you can throw away your prescription glasses. By continued wearing, pinhole glasses have been know to totally or partially correct vision problems. Treatment time will vary with the condition of the users eyes and total wearing time.

Dimensions (in.)

5.3" wide/5.5" long

Dimensions (mm.)

135 mm. x 140 mm.

Hole size

1.2 mm.

Space between holes

2.5 mm.




1 ounce (29 gr.)

Frame color

Tortoise Shell

Frame style

Standard Temples

Frame material


How can I get one?

You can order any of the three styles of pinhole glasses online with a credit card, PayPal or Google Checkout by visiting our Pinhole Glasses page.

You can order over the phone by calling us toll free at 888-742-3404 (479-442-3404 outside of the US) or email us at and we'll call you.

We are a member of the Better Business Bureau.

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      INeedGlasses 5 years ago

      I learned this technique a long while back. Still always an interesting topic, thanks for sharing!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I have been reading about pinhole glasses lately This lens covers the topic in great detail. Thanks for the info.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      A fascinating read and when I was little I did the fist thing so I could see the board in school!