Monday, August 4, 2008

They Asked - I Answered

A company called Pinhole Glasses Direct contacted me and asked if I would do a review of their product. Pinhole glasses, they claim (incorrect spelling and grammar is directly from their website):

Are effective and helpful in restoring vision for a number of eye disorders like myopia, hyperopia, cataract and astigmatism.

It is also useful over all distances. Whether it is for reading, for watching TV, or for working on the computer, one pair suits all purposes.

Allows only direct and coherent light rays to pass through. It does not allow indirect rays from distorting the true images formed by the direct rays entering in your eyes. Find out more about how pinholes work and the science behind its working here...

Do not employ concave lenses in correcting your vision. This prevents your eyesight from weakening due to wearing lenses, a common opthalmologic phenomenon called Acquired Myopia.

Increase brightness of image of objects. This allows you to see better in norma circumstances.

Are made with laser technology. They are highly effective, quality tools.

Are sturdy and long lasting. You need not worry as its performance does not get affected by scratches and marks on the lenses.

Unlike prescription eyeglasses, are a one-time investment. It saves you trouble and the money you would otherwise spend on changing your eyeglasses every now and then.

At $14.99 a pair, they are highly affordable. They are much cheaper than your prescription eyeglasses.

Although their claims reminded me of snake oil salesmen from the past, I decided to consent to the review, and so they sent me a pair of their glasses. And, while waiting for the glasses to arrive, I did a little research.

According to the website of one of their competitors (I assumed), was this explanation of how pinhole glasses 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.

Okay, still sounding a little snake-oilish to me, I checked Wikipedia. Here is what I found:

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 clearer image. Unlike conventional prescription glasses, pinhole glasses produce a clear image without the pincushion effect around the edges (which makes straight lines appear curved). While pinhole glasses are useful for people who are both near- and far-sighted, they are not recommended for people with over 6 diopters of myopia. It should also be noted that pinhole glasses reduce brightness and peripheral vision, and thus should not be used for driving or when operating machinery.

Pinhole glasses have been marketed by various companies on the claim that - combined with certain eye exercises - they could permanently improve eyesight. These claims have been analyzed, but no scientific evidence has been found to support them, and they are no longer allowed to be made in the United States under the terms of a legal settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Well, that would explain why the glasses were mailed to me from Europe.
The glasses finally arrived, and they were very much like the company’s website described. They are made out of plastic with plastic inserts where the lenses usually are, and there are lots of little pinholes on those inserts.

I tried them with several activities – eating dinner, watching TV, using the computer. My family members, all of whom have a vision impairment, also tried them. I brought them to my office and several of my co-workers tried them.

And I’m sorry to say that the unanimous decision was ‘snake oil’.

I’ve provided some links for the company’s website below. Personally though, I wouldn’t waste my time.

This may be the last time I am asked to do a product review, eh? Unless…the company really wants an honest review…

Company Main Page

Ordering page

Frequently Asked Questions

And Alternative to Prescription Eyeglasses


Anonymous said...

Oh, my. At least you were being honest!

Anonymous said...

Very nice, Ashley's Mom. I used the term snake oil in a couple of my posts lately. Barbara