When reading something that seems blurry without glasses, make a very small circle using your fingers and then look at the object through this circle…
For the millions of people who wear glasses to correct their vision, it can be irritating when you need to read something, but have forgotten your specs. I can relate to this entirely, as I have been wearing glasses for many years. Being someone who’s perennially dependent on glasses to clearly see the world every day, misplacing this precious asset can be a nightmare. And if your prescription is quite strong, losing your glasses can make you virtually blind!
The absence of glasses makes the whole world appear blurry. People become bushes and bushes become people, a strange surreal effect that photographers try to capture, but not something you want to deal with as you navigate a busy street!
Have a backup pair
It’s always advisable to consult your optometrist and get specs with an accurate prescription if you have a problem with your vision. And if it’s within your means, always keep a backup pair of glasses ready for emergencies. Glasses are fragile and may get damaged if you drop them. They also have a bad habit of being lost under the sofa like a TV remote! So, a backup pair is definitely recommended.
But what to do in the meantime? We’ll share some household, easy-to-do hacks to deal with the temporary blurriness or blindness in that chunk of time when you can’t find your glasses. Before we do that, however, you need to understand how the eyes work in order to build a better perspective of these simple hacks.
How do we see?
Every object emits light, or at least reflects it, and this light enters through the front part of the eye (cornea), passes through the lens, and then travels a bit further to the retina. Once it reaches the retina, all the rays of light converge into a single area as an inverted image. This is then corrected into an actual image through systems in the brain located in the occipital lobe.
As for why you can see clearly, you can thanks these internal lenses. When lens work properly, all the light that is incident on your eye is captured in one place. This gives you a clear picture of what you’re staring at. However, if for some reason there is a problem with these lenses, the light passing through the malfunctioning lens would scatter outward, leading to a blurred picture formation.
When you have myopia (nearsightedness) or hypermetropia (farsightedness), you’ll have to wear glasses or lenses to compensate for poor vision. These issues are due to the change in the shape of your lens, cornea or eyeball. If you have these issues, when the light rays enter your eyes, they spread haphazardly, which results in ‘blurred’ vision.
Now that you know how our eyes work, let’s look at a few tricks that can help you see without glasses in case you misplace them.
Tricks to seeing without glasses
1. Seeing through a pinhole
One of the quickest ways to regain your vision when stuck in a situation without glasses, albeit only partially, would be to make a tiny pinhole using your fingers. Look through this homemade handmade pinhole and the world will become clear again!
If you’re wearing glasses as you scroll through this article, remove your glasses and give it a try. Just wrap your fingers in a circular shape with a tiny hole in the middle.
If you’re reluctant to use your hand, what you can alternatively do is make a pinhole by poking a small hole through a piece of cardboard or paper. Look through this pinhole and you’ll be able to see the world more clearly! The feel of seeing through a pinhole is similar to peeking through binoculars or a microscope.
Why does looking through a pinhole make you see so much more clearly? Pinholes (or other small openings), unlike lenses, can focus light coming from any distance, owing to their tiny size. Pinholes only allow light to bypass from one place, and thus in only one direction from a particular source. Thus, everything you can see through the hole is sent as focussed light, resulting in clear visibility. If you’re familiar with photography, you’ll know that making the aperture smaller and smaller makes everything more focussed. The same thing is true with pinholes
Tiny openings like pinholes create crisp imagery by blocking more light, rather than dispersing it. As a result, the images created from this setup are generally darker. This is why we use (external) lenses, rather than pinholes, for glasses or telescopes. Obviously, the main reason is that you can only partially see through a pinhole.
This hack of using a pinhole won’t work for watching your favorite Netflix show, going out for a drive, or even just seeing the world for an extended period of time. That being said, it can be handy when you need to read a signboard, peruse a mathematical formula on a blackboard, or even distinguish between different people!
Another interesting way to see without glasses is squinting. I can still recall several occasions during my college years, when I forgot my glasses and quickly learned the art of squinting as a rescue tactic to compensate for my poor vision.
For those wondering how squinting helps, the reason is that it changes the shape of your eye, makes the pupils smaller, adjusts the focal length, and thereby makes the image clear. Unfortunately, you can’t squint for long, so it’s a temporary visual hack. Your eyes would start to hurt after a while, and excessive squinting may even give you headaches.
3. Using your smartphone camera
Smartphones are the ubiquitous and beloved tool for reading, chatting, shopping, surfing and so much more, but it can also be used for ‘seeing’! Yes, your smartphone camera can serve as an easy hack for those suffering from myopia, i.e., can see clearly when objects are close. Using a camera viewfinder on your smartphone becomes a tiny window through which you can see the world around you on a diminutive screen. Granted, you can’t keep strolling all day looking through a smartphone camera a few inches away from your face, but it’s certainly handy in moments of distress when you can’t find your glasses.
So, seeing through a pinhole, squinting, and looking through a mobile phone camera are three simple hacks that can help you amidst your next loss spectacles crisis!