Pinhole glasses are typically eyeglasses with lenses that are full of a grid of tiny holes. They help your eyes focus by shielding your vision from indirect rays of light. By letting less light into your eye, some people can see more clearly. Pinhole glasses are also called stenopeic glasses.
“Eye doctors, both ophthalmologists and optometrists, for many decades have used pinhole glasses clinically to help determine certain things with a patient’s eyes in clinical practice,” said Dr. Larry Patterson, a practicing ophthalmologist in Crossville, Tennessee. “And yes, anytime someone wears pinhole glasses who is a little nearsighted, farsighted, or has astigmatism, [they] will see clearer [with the glasses on].”
Myopia affects nearly 30 percent of people in the United States, estimates the American Optometric Association. People who have myopia have difficulty seeing clearly because of the shape of their eyes.
Pinhole glasses, also known as stenopeic glasses, are eyeglasses with a series of pinhole-sized perforations filling an opaque sheet of plastic in place of each lens. Similar to the workings of a pinhole camera, each perforation allows only a very narrow beam of light to enter the eye which reduces the size of the circle of confusion on the retina and increases depth of field. In eyes with refractive error, the result is often a sharper image. However, a second effect may appear at the common bridge between each two adjacent holes, whereby two different rays of light coming from the same object (but each passing through a different hole) are diffracted back toward the eye and onto different places on the retina.
Unlike conventional prescription glasses, pinhole glasses produce an image without the pincushion effect around the edges (which makes straight lines appear curved). While pinhole glasses are claimed to be useful for people who are both near- and far-sighted, they are not recommended for people with over 6 diopters of myopia. Additionally, pinhole glasses reduce brightness and peripheral vision, and thus should not be used for driving or when operating machinery.
Merchants state that after prolonged use, the plastic grating should become easy to ignore. However, each time the user blinks, the horizontal lines of the grating will briefly appear to be thicker. This is because the eyelid moving over the pupil will reduce the amount of light falling onto the retina and thus will briefly remove the lateral inhibition effect which normally makes all the holes appear bigger (and the grating appear thinner). So, as long as the user keeps blinking, they will be constantly reminded of the dark grating covering their eyes.
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