A Beam of Light Through a Pinhole
When we were children, a beam of light through a pinhole on to a sheet of paper was how we watched an eclipse. It was the only safe way to view an eclipse of the sun. We clearly understood warnings that looking directly at the sun during an eclipse could send us blind.
The concentrated beam of light would cause lifetime damage to our vision, by actually burning the image into our retina. If that sounds a little scary, think of how you can burn a piece of paper, with a magnifying glass.
It’s natural to blink when looking at the sun, and during an eclipse, you are much less likely to blink. Instead, you stare.
A Failing Beam of Light – 2004
Even if we followed all those rules, we regard failing vision as one of those unavoidable symptoms of getting older. In December 2004, I turned 61 and my kids gave me a lovely magnifying glass for Christmas. I already had glasses for my computer work and reading, although my long distance vision was still awesome.
I was convinced then there must be options to just slowly going blind.
Over the years I had a number of pairs of reading glasses prescribed for me, and always found the prescriptions were wrong. They were either far too strong or the depth of vision was wrong, and in some cases I couldn’t wear the prescribed glasses for another four or five years after the event. What I did find was I needed more and more light, to be able to read.
Going Blind – Even in the Light – 2005.
In 2005, my beautiful cat Teng Sing Tung went blind but the vet said he had detached retina. (I have some lovely stories to tell about that boy! Teng Sing Tung, not the Vet!) My retinas are intact but my eyesight, even then, was awful at close range. Faraway, I can see a bird in a tree! I want something better than just stronger glasses when it comes to reading.
Around that time, I discovered a link to some websites on health issues and read about the theory of “pinhole glasses” for improving sight. Like all alternative therapies that digress from mainstream medicine, there were lots of “for” and lots of “against” stories and you have to make up your own mind.
There was a plethora of websites to review
This is a direct quote from one of the websites that I read at the time:
“looking through the pinholes makes blurred vision sharper, even though they look as if it could be obscured. This could help people focus in the distance, watch TV, or see close or small print where they had previously needed glasses.
Studies have shown that wearing them for only 15 to 20 minutes a day helps the focusing muscles of the eye to grow stronger. There are noticeable improvements within a few weeks. In many cases, eyesight has been corrected back to 20/20 vision, alleviating long and shortsightedness….”
The principal and the theory behind pinhole glasses of central focusing have been around for the last 100 years, and there is special website on Myopia that recommends them. It is totally dedicated to educating people about how many of us can improve our vision by diet, exercise and using these pinhole glasses.
Of course, I understand that physical problems like glaucoma and cataracts are way outside what I am considering, but they are not issues that affect my eyes today. (well, they didn’t, at the time of writing the original blog post)
Well, you know me. It has to look good as well as do good and some of the glasses on offer in 2005 were pretty ugly, with prices varying from $25-$80 per pair. I bought some reasonably attractive ones that were shipped to me from Hawaii for about $40 and I did start wearing them for a time. There are much more attractive ones available now, but I will wait and see what happens this time around.
Extraordinary things happened.
I can tell you what happened after I had been wearing the glasses for a while. After using them for about an hour a day for a week, the most extraordinary thing happened. At the bi-annual meeting of the Midland Chamber of Commerce at the Rose and Crown hotel in Guildford, I picked up the agenda and began reading without my glasses. At first, I didn’t even notice that I was not wearing them.
A day or so later, I took my Dad to the Doctor in Mundaring. In the Doctor’s surgery, I picked up a National Geographic and read it without my glasses. It was so funny. I said, “Dad, listen to this … “and started to read aloud. He was trying to pick up on the story I was reading and said “what’s it all about (Alfie)?”
I laughed out loud. “What it is about, Dad, is that I am reading without my glasses!”
In New Zealand, Peter Grunwald has published a book, Eyebody – The Art of Integrating Eye, Brain and Body – and letting go of glasses forever!
As well, he wrote many articles on the integration of physical activity, posture and general well-being having an impact on our ability to see well.
It is a fascinating website with a wealth of understanding and information. People of all ages and walks of life appear to have been using his methods successfully. His story alone is enough to convince me that there is merit in the idea that I might be able to get rid of my glasses.
The initial experience is a bit disconcerting, because you have a form of “insect vision”, with distinct but multiple images overlapping in a rather confusing way. You see things a bit like a fly does!
As part of my paper flow project, which is cleaning up and organising my office, I have rediscovered my pinhole glasses. Notwithstanding that I have recently spent an inordinate amount of money on buying very fashionable frames for two new pairs of glasses, I decided to order Peter’s book.
My idea was to practice better posture, train my eyeballs and see what happens. Since my previous experience was definitely positive, and I have no medical problems with my eyes. (Well, at the time of writing the original post, that was true). Both my parents have either cataract or glaucoma, which impinges heavily on their visual capacity. I am going to give it a go. It will be interesting to see what the outcome will be.
As so often happens, I didn’t fully follow through with the plan to train my eyeballs. While I can say I had some improvement in my vision without glasses, I had cataracts removed from both eyes in 2013.
Following successful breast cancer surgery and chemotherapy, it was a logical next step. It was getting so I couldn’t see well enough to put on my eyeshadow, and that would never do!
Now, I can read with the help of a pair of number 2 magnification glasses, that I buy for less than $20 from the local pharmacy. Of course, I have a wardrobe of glasses – so I can be colour coordinated at any time.
So, why update an old post?
When we were children, a beam of light through a pinhole on to a sheet of paper was how we watched an eclipse. It was the only safe way to view an eclipse of the sun.
In this age of computers, television, and science fiction which is almost indistinguishable from real life, why not? Because although we have wonderful technology, the science behind those warnings of our childhood are as valid today as they ever were.
Educating children is a never-ending journey. In the world of technology which blurs the line between reality and the surreal, we must keep children safe. We can never forget children need to be educated, sometimes about things we have known for half a century or more.
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