Teach me about the eye

I understand that as we get older, several things start to work against us in terms of low light vision. Rods deteriorate, reducing rod density. Muscles weaken, impacting pupil dilation and speed at which we adjust to light. Finally the cornea may start to cloud. I notice that older players tend to be the ones complaining about lack of ambient light.

I don’t really understand the impact of low illumination and bright inserts on the eye and how it relates to the above. I assume the inserts are bright enough that the pupil contracts making seeing the unilumilated area very hard. I also assume that after a Dwight style jackpot lightshow the older player is impacted longer.

Does wearing sunglasses help? What about red filter glasses? Or possibly some other colour of lense?

Does chemically induced pupil dilation help?


I don’t need to wear glasses, and have my eyes tested regularly. However I do find playing in a dimmed environment more challenging, especially if a machine is poorly lit internally, (WOZ near the upper flipper is especially bad as is Alien near the lower flippers.)

The contrast between full light show and returning to normal is less of a problem, even WIC on GoT I don’t have that much of a problem with.

I have found that sunglasses don’t really help - but I have used Laser goggles from work and they help immensely - even if they do give everything a severe yellow hue, and you look like you are just about to start welding something.

Aren’t they essentially blue light filters? There’s consumer grade blue light reducers on the market, that could be useful.

I can’t find the exact ones I have, but they’re similar to these.

The ones I have are specifically for use with a “Class 4 Carbon Dioxide 30 W continuous and pulsed laser”.

At £350 a pair I don’t think it’s viable to purchase a pair purely to play pinball though.


This is great to hear. I am not going to buy $300 safety glasses, but I will be ordering some $30 blue light filter computer glasses to try out.

You don’t seem to know what forum you’re on - anyone taking bets on when we see these on a stream?


True, some of the instruments in my tool box which have been ‘rescued’ from the operating theatres are worth more than many a pinball machine.

1 Like

I asked my optometrist about yellow lens glasses being sold for sight fishing. She explained that yellow lens filters out a small amount of dark ‘rays’ and that I didn’t need to buy the fancy ones advertised, I just need to get a decent pair of shades with yellow lens. She was right. They work fantastic in low light conditions. If you drive in foggy conditions regularly (or fish in a foggy ocean), they are mandatory. Like X ray vision compared to no glasses. They are also very helpful when driving at dawn and dusk.

I’ve never tried them while playing as they are my prescription and I only need glasses for driving (near-sighted). You don’t need expensive shades, just get yellow lens if you want to try it. I’m older and my eyes struggle more with LED light shows and flipper rubbers that aren’t factory colors. I’ve accepted the fact that my eyes are getting older (and reflexes getting slower) and rely on my recovery skills to get me through the missed shots.

If you’re getting older, work on your flipper skills would be my advice.

1 Like

Is The Sanctum streaming? I’m totally bringing my Gunnars for that slog.

1 Like

I was recently given bi-focals, and when I tried to play pinball with them it was completely impossible. So I took them back and went back to normal corrective lenses. I am near-sighted, so I just take my glasses off when I play now. (and occasionally walk away having left them next to a game, resulting in short-term panic.)

1 Like

I’m 51 and as I’ve gotten older, and especially the last few years, I struggle a lot more now when there is low ambient light. I have no idea how my brain tracks the ball (s) in play, but in low light, I am a lot more likely to “lose track” of the ball (s) for just an instant and I find myself making mistakes because I react too late to save the situation or, I react incorrectly, for instance, raising the wrong flipper first, or worst of all, I don’t react at all because I wasn’t aware of the situation until it was too late. Some drains are unavoidable, but if I hit the bottom of a flipper with the ball, then I know it was saveable, I just did the wrong thing. And absolutely, the darker it is, the more likely this happens to me. I take full responsibility for each and every one of my 140 drains this weekend at Pinburgh, each one well deserved, but I definitely drained “worse” on the banks in the rows where the overhead lights were turned off. I know there was a wicked glare on some of these games with the lights on, so it was damned-if-you-do / damned-if-you-dont, but I will definitely be bringing my headlamp next year. @drgnlair has already promised to bring me a walker to help get around, too, so I should be all set! To all you kids out there, enjoy your Rods and Cones and fast twitch muscles and the rest. They won’t last forever, lol. #GrumpyOldMan, #FearTheDark, #TakeResponsibilityForYourDrain


I also got bifocal glasses a couple of years back, and I found playing pinball with them on a disaster. As the ball tracked across the transition I would often lose it. Not sure if progressive lenses would be better; I opted for bifocal because it was cheaper and I don’t wear my glasses a lot.

I mostly wear contacts for my near-sightedness (bad enough that without the contacts or glasses, I would be unable to see a playfield in front of me) and I’ve resisted getting bifocal or progressive contact lenses. If I’m going to play pinball, I know that I’ll wear my contacts, not my bifocal glasses, and I won’t lose the ball. I wonder if I could get a pair of glasses specifically tuned for playing pinball (and if that would be an affordable thing to do).

There’s also this interesting effect that low light conditions introduce lag into the vision system, so your reaction times will actually be measurably worse when it’s too dark.

This has been used for achieving 3D effects on a normal TV set, for instance, put sunglasees over your left eye only and watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKoeKUqm9us&t=17m19s

Occasionally I make roving shots in normal movies 3D by squinting one eye, it’s quite fun, you should try.

Anyway, I don’t know if this low light lag becomes more pronounced with age, but I suppose we could try to test this by asking people of different age about the degree of depth perception they experience watching such a video.

1 Like

In round 4 there was a slight overcast outside, it was evening and the house lights weren’t on. I totally noticed the lag on the darker games and started to panic! My games suffered big time and I was afraid we’d play the next round under the same conditions. I came back after break to find the house lights turned on and was super relieved. I was a previous supporter of lowering the house lights to reduce glare but I see the light!

1 Like

I have an eye condition that I can’t explain here, but it has prevented me from being able to play pinball for long periods of time lately. I nearly have stopped competing because of it. On top of that, I have retinal tearing in both eyes that causes dark areas in my vision at the periphery. The ultra bright LEDs and flashers give me major headaches and eye strain, especially in dark rooms. It’s a bummer, because I can’t practice and when I play in events, I have to just play my matches and preserve my play time to avoid having headaches set in, so I don’t practice between rounds or really warm up.

I have been wearing glasses with special lenses as recommended by a doctor. They’re just a pair of Gunnar glasses, but they really do help. They delay the onset of my headaches, and they help with the severity of the annoyance the flashing lights bring.

I wish that we could tone down some of the light effects. Game of Thrones is so bad that I can’t watch someone else playing it anymore, and while I play, I just need to know that it’s going to be rough.

But for anybody interested in trying a pair of light-filtering glasses, I would recommend looking into a pair of Gunnars that have the yellow lenses. They filter out so much harshness without dimming the light, so they work in even dark rooms.


Here comes the science:

Copper, orange, yellow/amber and brown lens tints are helpful in low-light conditions because they make an environment appear brighter. They also enhance contrast and depth perception and are great for overcast, hazy and foggy conditions.

In addition, these lens tints block blue light. Blue light, with its shorter wavelength, scatters easier than other colors and makes focusing on objects difficult. Removing blue light improves sharpness and depth perception and reduces eye fatigue. These tints do cause some degree of color distortion, though brown/bronze lenses do so considerably less than the others.

Popular Uses

People who drive a lot prefer brown and copper tints for increased visual clarity but also because they enhance the color red. So, since brake lights, stop lights and tail lights are all red, they’ll really stand out . The easier it is to see these important warning signals the faster reaction times become.

Baseball players, golfers, cyclists and hunters often prefer yellow and amber tints. In overcast and hazy conditions, the extra water vapor in the air increases the scattering of blue light. This decreases visual acuity and depth perception. Eyes must then work harder, which results in eye fatigue and sometimes headaches. Yellow and amber tints reduce the impact of blue light in these conditions.

Yellow tinted lenses also benefit anyone spending a lot of time in front of a computer screen. Computers, game consoles, smartphones, etc. produce a lot of blue light. Wearing yellow/amber tinted eyewear blocks that light to help reduced eye fatigue and strain


Amazon has shades with yellow lens for less than $20.


I bought a pair of UVEX orange overfit safety glasses. I think they really make a difference, excited to try them in a real setting. This may let me win the dorkiest looking pinball player at BPSO.