Introduction: How to Make Instant Reading Glasses

Picture of How to Make Instant Reading Glasses

For those who need glasses to read the small print, here is a simple method. You can use it, in a pinch, when you have left your reading glasses behind. I and many others have independently discovered this technique. It was probably used a thousand years ago.

How It Works

Pic2 shows how to configure your thumb and the next two fingers to create a small triangular opening that you hold about an inch from your eye. Narrow the opening until your view is in focus.

You are effectively creating a pinhole lens. This gives a slight magnification and significantly increases your depth of feild (the range that is in focus). It does this by greatly limiting the amount of light going through the lens in your eye. It is like adjusting the F stop in a camera.

The 3 finger reading glass works best in brighter light. To get a wider feild of view, you can use both hands held up to both eyes (pic3).


3366carlos (author)2017-01-20

it works

pjerz (author)2016-06-04

Thats really helpful! Works also for shortsighted guys like me. Thanks! :)

moosetooth (author)2015-09-25


ivana.dobra (author)2015-03-15

It works allright! I have also just cut a small hole in a piece of cardboard - same effect.

gdyer1 (author)2015-01-28

as I understand it, this is very effective if you have no retinal damage. It's a test the opthomology department used on me recently to see if I had an infection of the retina. Brilliant, I've used it to clear my vision with my dry eye problem.

calcalhamlet (author)2014-06-29

fantastic idea, how did I not think of this before

sandrak320 (author)2014-02-27

I need reading glasses. This really works in a pinch!

eltiburon (author)2014-01-17

WOW. Simply brilliant.

jerpon (author)2013-10-10


Dreamchronic (author)2013-08-11

i had a glasses made from a dark plastic with many many little holes in it, and you can use it as a reading glasses and also you see much better objects far away and much sharper. also they suppose to "repair" your eyes a bit. maybe somebody mentioned it here, but i didn't see :D:D

laajuk (author)2013-05-24

My dad does this all the time and I always found it funny. Now at least I have a logic explanation :D He says this is the way a fly see.

Krotas (author)2013-04-08

So simple, it's amazing :)

shield38 (author)2013-04-06

fantastic site thanks

louis.m (author)2013-04-03

Closing your eyelids almost complete will doe the job to !

omnichronos (author)2013-04-01

I laughed out lout at this simple solution. My great eyesight has diminished horribly with age and with my BS in Physics this didn't didn't occur to me.

Broom (author)2013-04-01

OK, this worked. I just read super-fine print off one of my engineering drawings that normally require 3-4x mag to see!!! I'm an optical engineer, but it never dawned on me to make a pinhole viewer like this. My hat's off to you.

beinvolved (author)2013-04-01

Awesome, thank you!

kojak (author)2013-04-01

While not personally thousands of years old, and have never discovered this technique on my own, I found this to be genius!

Zetainex (author)2013-04-01

If you have myopia you can put your eyes stretched (like a Chinese imitation) and that can correct your vision a few. Other tricks xD

jrjohnwood (author)2013-03-31

If you ever wondered why you have eyebrows, they are a carry-over from human and animal beginnings. 100000 years ago eyebrows were long and bushy and draped down over your eyes, and you looked through your eyebrows. They shielded your eyes from harsh sunlight, but mainly they caused the same effect as the pinhole glasses you have seen. Hold a real fine piece of screen material up and you get the same effect. You used to be able to see things up close and magnified, and at greater distance like binoculars.Of course if you have a caveman relative, you already know this.

Luby (author)2013-03-31

This is a cool trick.
The other day at Walmart I forgot my glasses in the car and did not want to go all the way out to get them. After some internal cursing, I went to the isle with non-prescription glasses and got a pair. When I finished shopping I put them back on the rack.

Acrata (author)2013-03-31

f5mando (author)2013-03-31

LOL! I discovered this when my eyesight first began to deteriorate at the age of eight!

kewpiedoll99 (author)f5mando2013-03-31

me too - i always thought i was the only one because every time i mention it to people they look at me like i have 2 heads :)

f5mando (author)kewpiedoll992013-03-31

I love that this forum has this wonderful by-product of finding kindred previously-labeled nut cases. More power to us!

Africorn (author)f5mando2013-03-31

8-) Me too!

MootScience (author)2013-03-31

This instructable is the reason why I am a member. Very simple, easy to understand and most anyone can do it. Thank you for this.

coronel (author)2013-03-31


qewt (author)2013-03-31

<3!!!! A lifesaver ;) I'm a compulsive label reader in the supermarket, so when I forget my glasses I'm completely helpless.

Doone valley (author)2013-03-31

True and very neat!

atees (author)2013-03-31

Thank you very useful!

Exocetid (author)2013-03-31

This is brilliant! I pulled off my readers and the page blurred, did your "finger pinhole lens" and could read!

Forget in a pinch. I plan to use this when working on things where I have to keep switching glasses (I hate bifocals) to get a closer look.

dulciquilt (author)2013-03-31

i have not seen this technique, but have looked through opening caused by curling fingers into a tunnel..the way we used to pretend we were looking through a telescope or binoculars. Your way seems to give a better focus. I have had to use the other way several times when I couldn't find my reading glasses. Will be sharing this idea!

djohnson0922 (author)2013-03-31

I'm a scientist and a photographer. I should have known this. Thanks.

Ironsloth1993 (author)2013-03-30

Hello sir! It has been quite a while. I have published my first instructable. I was wondering, how are videos added to your projects? I thought I could but it didn't appear. I am doing this from a mobile device.

FO The Turk (author)2013-03-30

Brilliant !...thanks for sharing.

Muhaiminah Faiz (author)2013-03-29

voted! just tried, it's sooo amazing!

codongolev (author)2013-03-29

this..... is the coolest science trick ever. I'll remember this one.

Misac-kun (author)2013-03-29

Are you a Wizard? That thing works!

gwylan (author)2013-03-29

Hah! That certainly brings back memories. I used to do that as a kid to see the blackboard (and thus clued my teacher in to my need for glasses).

bluesnake4 (author)2013-03-29

Any tricks for on-the-go glasses for us shortsighted people?

hjimmy (author)2013-03-29

Oh my gosh, I can't count how many times I have needed this advice! Thank you for an excellent, short 'ible.

stubbsonic (author)2013-03-29

I've done this making one hole before. But this method making one pinhole for each eye is very clever! BTW, it can also work in a pinch for other vision Rx's when glasses are out of reach. They make funny glasses that are black plastic with bunches of tiny holes.

mandolinible (author)2013-03-29

This is a great tip, thanks a mill!

caarntedd (author)2013-03-29


TheExterminatingDalek (author)2013-03-29

Cripes, it actually works! Thanks for sharing it

Ninzerbean (author)2013-03-29

That is amazing - I just tried it and it works!

HMice (author)2013-03-28


About This Instructable




Bio: I believe that the purpose of life is to learn how to do our best and not give in to the weaker way.
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