Pinhole glasses? What they are and what they do
What are pinhole glasses?
Pinhole glasses, or stenopeic glasses, are plastic eyewear with hundreds of pinhole-sized perforations in place of lenses.
Pinhole glasses are used to help improve refractive errors in the eye because they shield the eye from indirect rays of light, which commonly distort vision. This reduces what eye doctors refer to as the “blur circle” on the back of the retina.
How do pinhole glasses work?
Pinhole glasses work differently than glasses and contact lenses. Contacts and glasses correct vision by collecting rays of light as they enter the eye and forcing them to converge on the retina rather than behind or in front of it.
Pinhole glasses instead limit the amount of light going into the eye, which enables some people to see more clearly (similar to the effect you experience when you squint).
WHEN WAS YOUR LAST EYE EXAM? Find an eye doctor near you and book an eye exam.
What are pinhole glasses used for?
Pinhole glasses are sometimes used to treat nearsightedness or astigmatism, but eye doctors are the primary users. Eye doctors often use pinhole glasses as a diagnostic tool to quickly check for vision impairments.
Pinhole glasses are also used in conjunction with an occluder, an instrument used to cover one of your eyes while you read an eye chart. On one end, the occluder is solid, and on the other, it has a number of tiny pinholes. A doctor can use this to gauge the potential of your vision.
Pinhole glasses are even used to evaluate corneal distortion and cataracts. A cataract evaluation includes focusing light in the eye to check if vision capability behind the cataract makes it worth performing surgery.
Can pinhole glasses improve eyesight?
While some people claim pinhole glasses can treat myopia (nearsightedness) or astigmatism, there is little evidence to support it. Others have suggested that pinhole glasses used in combination with certain eye exercises can permanently improve eyesight.
Though pinhole glasses may appear to improve vision while they are being worn, in most cases, they aren’t practical for everyday use.
Why? Pinhole glasses are designed to block part of your direct vision and restrict peripheral vision. This cuts the amount of light that enters your eye, reducing the visual quality of an image.
For example, you may see a sharp image, but it can appear dim. As a result, activities in which sight is important, such as driving, can become unsafe while wearing pinhole glasses.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PINHOLE GLASSES? Ask your eye doctor when you book your next exam.
Page published in January 2020
Page updated in January 2021