How to make impairment goggles

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Vision impairment goggles are simulators that allow a subject to experience the impact of different vision problems. You can make your own simulation goggles with a pair of goggles and some foam board with little effort and little money.

Once you have created your goggles, you can simulate the effects of macular degeneration, glaucoma, or cataracts.

The goggles

Purchase a pair of a pair of cover-all goggles. They are goggles that fit over top of glasses and are more comfortable than the traditional cup goggles that have the plastic band across the nose. They can be purchased on-line.

Use one of the glass inserts that comes with your goggles to trace a circle on a piece of foam board. Use a Stanley knife to cut out the circle. This circle will be your occluder. Occluders are objects used to block the amount of light that reaches your eyes.

Insert the occluder or use your clear glass inserts as needed for each simulation.

Measure the effects of the vision simulations on your subject by having them read an eye chart each time and record the results.

Macular degeneration

Place the goggles with the clear inserts on your subject. Have your subject look straight ahead and use a dry erase pen to mark the centre where their centre of vision is.

Clear away the pen mark and place a half inch spot of clear nail polish where the mark was to simulate scotomas. Scotomas are areas of reduced vision and visual sensitivity.

Use a facial tissue or toilet paper to dab the nail polish when it is tacky but not wet. If you want to simulate more severe condition, allow the nail polish to dry for another minute and then dab it again. Continue this every minute until you have obscured the field of vision as much as you would like.

Have your subject wear the goggles to experience the effects of macular degeneration on vision.


Use an electric drill to make a small hole just off centre of the occulder. The hole should be larger than pinhole size; otherwise it may improve the subject's vision.

Insert the drilled occluder into one side of the goggles.

Have the subject wear the goggles to experience the effects of glaucoma on vision.


Use a spray varnish to coat one side of one of your clear glass inserts.

Blot the varnish when it becomes tacky, just as you did in the macular degeneration example.

Continue to blot it, every minute until you have reached the amount of opaqueness you desire. Make some areas less blotted than others to make the simulation more real.

Have the subject wear the goggles to experience the effects of cataracts on vision.