Make Stenopeic Glasses

We’ve created an activity guide on making stenopeic glasses out of recycled materials! This project was inspired by Patricia's Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight, written by Michelle Lord, and illustrated by Alleanna Harris. Patricia’s Vision is the story of the brave Dr. Patricia Bath, an African-American ophthalmologist, inventor, humanitarian and academic who dedicated her life to helping the blind. She invented the Laserphaco Probe, the laser cataract surgery that saved many peoples’ sight--a journey that started when she was a young girl growing up in Harlem.

Find Patricia’s Vision at our Chill Zone during your next visit or camp at reDiscover Center!

STEP 1 - Investigate: What are Stenopeic Glasses?

According to Wikipedia: "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."

Step 2 - Gather Your Materials


  • Cardstock Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Aluminum Foil
  • *Optional: Old Eyeglass Frames


  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Pushpin
  • Marker

What materials will you make with? If you don't have something, what alternatives can you use?

STEP 3 - Design your eyewear frames

Think of the designs and sketch a few eyewear designs before you begin. You can trace the existing frames or invent your own. Make these as wild or as tame as you want. What you wear on your face is highly personal. 

*Pro-Tip: Fold your card stock to create symmetry, trace half, then cut out both layers and unfold.

“Do not allow your mind to be imprisoned by majority thinking.
Remember that the limits of science are not the limits of imagination."

- Dr. Patricia Bath

STEP 4 - Wrap your Paper Frame with Aluminum Foil

Now attach the tinfoil to the glasses to form lenses. Experiment with types of foil and other opaque materials that may also work.

"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 their eyes, some people can see more clearly. Pinhole glasses are also called stenopeic glasses."

STEP 5 - Puncture holes in your frames.

Create small pinholes with your push pin.

*Pro-Tip: When punching holes have something soft under the foil, like tissue or single-ply cardboard.

"Pinhole glasses have several uses. Some people use them as a treatment for myopia, also known as nearsightedness. Other people wear them to try to improve astigmatism."

STEP 6 - Run a Science Experiment

Test how your vision changes when looking through stenopeic glasses. Can you see the details more clearly? Do colors look different? Record your data and share it!

There are many uses for pinhole glasses. Find out for yourself!

I have asked everyone in my family to try them on to read small text. Everyone loved the low-tech effect.


Help kids be sensible and make good use of their maker skills! Who do you know who could use pinhole glasses? Design and build pinhole glasses for them. Ask lots of questions, and use the data you collect to redesign and build even better pinhole glasses. Remember What Dr. Bath teaches us: persistence and imagination are equally important for inventors.

Visit the Techniques tab in reDiscover Center's Pedagogy Resources to access our Tiny Techniques videos and get tips for working safely and efficiently with tools.

Once you have finished your glasses, share it with friends and family. If you want to share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr. We'd love to see yours!

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