A Doubter's Experiments Triggered by Pinhole Glasses

Published: 23rd February 2009
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When I first heard of pinhole glasses, I was highly skeptical. I already knew about old, even prehistoric, uses of wooden or leather eye-coverings with small holes punched in them, or hats with multiple strips of leather hanging down in front to cover the eyes. But I assumed these were sunglasses. I have big-time medical problems in my eyes: corneal dystrophy that has one layer of the cornea in one eye almost totally opaque and a less developed corneal dystrophy in the other eye, plus cataracts in both eyes. The doctors won't operate until it's time to remove both cataracts, because if a cornea is transplanted and a cataract is later removed, the cornea has to be replaced a second time. Since each cornea comes from a person who has the generosity to ask that his or her cornea be given to someone else after the donor's death, it's extremely thoughtless to waste a cornea.

So I'm waiting.

Then I came across an article about pinhole eyeglasses. I was, to say the least, extremely doubtful that this could possibly make sense. But my vision is deteriorating so rapidly that when I go back in March, only three months after my last visit to the ophthalmologists, I expect to have a new prescription. As I do all my work, most of my hobbies, and a large amount of my socializing on computer, and my major hobby is reading, I am increasingly inconvenienced (the word "handicapped" seems now to be politically incorrect, so maybe I should say "impeded") by this situation.

The whole idea of seeing better through pinholes made no sense whatever to me. But anything that will let me continue my lifestyle is worth checking out.

The first thing I found was that there are numerous articles online about them. http://www.myopia.org/pinholes.htm seems as good as any of the others.

I first tried the suggested experiment of looking through my slightly open fist. I placed a brochure I had been reading at a distance sufficient to make it impossible to read with my glasses, although the headline was readable. Looking through my slightly opened fist, I found the headline quite clear and the brochure itself readable and fairly clear. But that was using only one eye. Either of my eyes, using glasses, is weaker than both eyes together using glasses.

With my glasses off, the headline was slightly more readable than it was with the glasses, and the text was readable without glasses with some difficulty. But this was predictable. At 65, I have presbyopia with all its trimmings. Looking through both fists, I could not get the images from both eyes to merge as they do with eyeglasses; however, I could still see the text with greater clarity than I could with my glasses.

For my next step, I took off my glasses and got a small flat strainer from the kitchen. Looking through it, I could see the print somewhat better than I could with my glasses and slightly better than I could without them.

I then brought the brochure closer to me. I could read the headline very easily, but could read the text with considerable difficulty. Without my glasses, reading through my not quite clenched fists, I could make out the text somewhat better than I could with my glasses and slightly better than I could without my glasses. With my worst eye, I could barely read the print, but using my worst eye with or without my glasses I could not read the print at all. Without my glasses and with the kitchen strainer, I could see no better than without my glasses.

I then tested my better eye the same way. Without my glasses I could read the headlines easily but the text only with extreme difficulty. Through my almost-clenched fist, I could read the text easily. Using the strainer, I could read the text very little better than without the glasses.

For my final experiment, I got out my Amazon Kindle ebook. I have it set for the largest type size, but within the last few months I have become unable to read it without my glasses. Looking through my fist, the type was quite clear. Looking through the strainer, the type was readable but blurry with the bad eye, readable with the good eye.

The conclusions I came to were as follows:

(1) The wires of a kitchen strainer, such as you would use to strain tea or squeezed citrus, are set too close together.

(2) The small hole made when you have unclenched your fist just enough to see through it is just the right size.

This means that the prehistoric and protohistoric wooden or leather glasses with square holes carved in them would have worked far better than anything else available to them in restoring failing visions. The gaucho hats with the leather fringe dangling in front of the eyes probably work well. However, I would not be willing to substitute either of these things for my glasses at present. If it became impossible to get good glasses or plastic lenses, I would turn to wooden glasses with small, square holes. With these and no cataract and cornea surgery, I would eventually go blind, but with regular glasses and no cataract and cornea surgery I would eventually go blind anyway.

I would recommend that more study be done on this by ophthalmologists. Some people have asserted that use of these glasses quite early can retrain the eye to see properly. At my age and in my stage of visual health, I can't try this. But I can see a possibility that it might work, and in particular it might be better than using an eyepatch to treat amblyopia. One thing
pinhole glasses are NOT is superstition; another thing they are not is pinhole, unless my visual reaction to the small holes in the strainer is an artifact of my age and visual health.

And if you read Jean Auel, remember that the sunglasses Jondolar made for Ayla's use as they crossed the glacier would have worked.



Mike has been writing and publishing articles about health products. He recently came across a website on pinhole glasses which gave information about this old technique of using pinhole glasses for eyesight correction. Mike himself had tried the product and found it quite beneficial. Here's an article about pinhole glasses.

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