Does squinting really improve vision?

Photo by Flickr user massdistraction. Click for sourceScience radio show Quirks and Quarks had a fascinating segment on its most recent programme asking whether squinting really does help you see more clearly. It turns out, it does.

The programme talks to ophthalmologist Stephanie Baxter from Queen’s University in Kingston who notes that squinting focuses the incoming light onto the fovea – a central point on the retina responsible for sharp central vision – and cuts out light from other directions.

The short segment on squinting is at the bottom of the page.

Link to December 5th edition of Quirks and Quarks.

One Comment

  1. gregg brazel
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    This ‘phenomenon’ has been well documented for some time; it is a function of optical physics.
    ‘Myopic’ derives from the Greek myein (shut), and ops, (eye)… near-sighted people squint when viewing far-off objects for a reason.
    Pinhole glasses work. To test out the hypothesis, make your hand into a tight funnel, with a small opening / point of light at the pinkie end (you can also do this by punching a small hole thru a bit of cardboard or thick paper). Look through it. If you are myopic, you will will see that far-away objects are brought into much tighter focus, resulting from the blocking of light rays that enter the retina at obtuse angles. These light rays are improperly bent due to a ‘faulty’ (usually older and more rigid) lens. Thru a pinhole, only a straight-on ‘pencil of light’ enters the eye, projecting a much more focused image onto the retina.
    This should be studied much more heavily as it also has corrective potential (at a very low cost… hence, it’s gone into the memory-hole).
    Peace, y’all.


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