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Best Binoculars for Glasses Wearers

According to a 2018 study, 48% of the European population wore some form of eye spectacles for correcting near and far sightedness. In fact, every third person we see in a day wears eye glasses for vision correction. Some of these complications are genetic while most individuals develop vision problems in their 20s.

Can You Use Binoculars If You Wear Glasses?

Regardless, the use of prescription eye glasses greatly affects their viewing experience with binoculars, since glasses come in between the eyepiece of binoculars and eyes resulting in an uncomfortable feeling for the observer. Since eye glasses contain a combination of convex and concave lenses, they can potentially affect the images generated by binoculars, depending on their power and other characteristics. In addition, most eyeglass wearers suffer from different eyesight conditions in both eyes and it is quite common for them to see better with one eye compared to the other.

Binoculars For People With Glasses

Since the two optical barrels produce separate images for each eye, it is important for both eyes to function correspondingly. The two images are sent to the brain through the optic nerve where they are superimposed on each other to provide us with one final image. If one eye has a different power than the other, it will be unable to view the image clearly and you might experience a blur in the final images. Thankfully, most modern binoculars feature a diopter mechanism which compensates for the difference in both eyes and prevent ourselves from getting eye fatigue. A knob is provided on barrels which can be turned clockwise or counter clockwise to adjust either barrel with respective to eyes.

Can I Use Binoculars With Astigmatism?

If the prescription eyeglasses wore by an individual are for correcting the diopter error and not for other vision conditions, such as astigmatism and presbyopia, it is possible for some users to use binoculars without wearing their eyeglasses since the binocular’s diopter mechanism can be used to adjust the barrel for the particular eye. This is indeed a sigh of relief for some individuals but others may still have to wear their spectacles. Some binoculars are designed to be used specifically with glasses while some others can become a little problematic when used by eyeglasses wearers.

Main Binoculars Features

There are several features that make a binocular suitable to be used along with glasses. Some of them are listed below:

1. What is eye relief for binoculars?

The minimum safe distance at which a specific set of binoculars must be kept from both eyes in order to obtain clear and focused views of distant objects is known as the Binoculars eye relief. Both eyes must be within this distance to properly utilize the field of view of the device and prevent the vignette effect, which is an unwanted circular cropping of image at the edges. Eye Relief is measured in millimeters and a value of at least 14 mm is desirable for a better viewing experience.

Short vs. Long Eye Relief
Source: Nikon

Need more Information about Eye Relief?

The value of eye relief is inversely proportional to the magnification and field of view for optical devices. The larger the eye relief, the smaller will be the field of view and magnification for a specific device. Binoculars with larger magnification powers, such as army binoculars, require their eyepiece lenses to be placed as close to the eye as safely possible to avoid unnecessary cropping. Quality of the optical design of the binoculars also plays a huge role in eye relief. Better binoculars have longer eye reliefs.

Spectacle wearers often suffer from binoculars vignette since they cannot bring their binoculars closer to their eyes because of the presence of glasses in between. For proper viewing, binoculars with eye relief of at least 16 or 18 mm are suitable. Binoculars with greater eye relief than 18 mm are considered to even better since observers have more room to adjust their glasses accordingly and can avoid bringing their binoculars dangerously close to their glasses.

The eye relief of binoculars is the result of a complex arrangement of eyepiece lenses and designing binoculars with a larger eye relief requires complex calculations and an increased number of lenses in the eyepiece area. Not all binoculars feature larger eye reliefs and the premium ones that do cost relatively more.

2. Multiple Position Eye Cups

In the past, binoculars with large eye reliefs featured fixed rubber cups around the eye piece to accommodate the observers. Since binoculars are sensitive optical devices, they need to be steadily held during use to provide views that are consistently sharp and focused. Rubber eye cups provide a resting platform which can be placed around the eyes to minimize unwanted hand movements that translate into the view through the eyepiece and particularly affect binoculars with greater magnifications. But due to their fixed nature, sharing these binoculars with friends and family who did not wear eyeglasses caused trouble since it is difficult to see a wider field of view for users who do not suffer from vision impairment. Most modern binoculars with larger eye reliefs feature retractable eye cups which can be extended or retracted when needed. Choosing an appropriate design of eye cups is particularly important if you wear eye glasses.

Today’s binoculars come with two types of eye cups design:

2.1 Twist Eye Cups

Twisting Eye Cups are the ultimate solution for eyeglasses wearers. As the name suggests, these eye cups can be twisted clockwise and counter clockwise to retract or extend them. They are mostly seen in high-end roof prism binoculars. Eye cups with a twisting mechanism provide proper support for the binoculars since they do not collapse by themselves when pressure is applied on them during use. Outdoor activities like hunting and bird watching require precise observation and timing, and binocular eye cups that may retract on their own during use can cost you several seconds and you might miss the prey or a rare species of birds.

Twisting eye cups usually provide a number of fixed clicks between being fully retracted and extended. Most binoculars offer three standard positions for setting the eye cups but binoculars with more than three eye cup positions are generally considered to be likeable among individuals who wear eyeglasses, since they provide precise control over the position of eye cups.

Binoculars eye pieces (twist up eye cups in upper row)
Binoculars eye pieces (twist up eye cups in upper row)

However, many users of binoculars are unaware of this feature and they keep their cups twisted all the way out to the full extended position regardless of the occasion. While this may be acceptable for blocking unwanted peripheral light from your view, extending the cups fully might pose some problems.

Below are some benefits and drawbacks of the three standard eye cup positions.

  • Full Retraction
    In this eye cup position, the eye cups are twisted down to the eye piece lens, which exposes the lenses to dirt particles and dust. This eye cup position is not suitable for most eyeglass wearers, since their eye comes too close. This is however a very personal circumstance and is very person to person specific.
  • Middle Extension
    This eye cup position is suitable for a variety of occasions. It protects the eyepiece lenses from dirt particles, blocks unwanted peripheral light to some extent. Since this position keeps the lenses midway at around 16 – 18 mm away from the exit pupil, it is comfortable for most spectacle wearers.
  • Full Extension
    The full extension puts the ocular lenses at about 18 – 20 mm from the eyes. It covers the lenses fully thereby providing ample protection from dust. Fully extended cups block the peripheral light completely, allowing you to view objects clearly without interruption, but a small problem can be associated with this position. It promotes eyepiece fogging during extended viewing sessions in colder environments, since warmth your face can get trapped in between the eyes and eyepiece.
Swarovski NL Pure 10×42 W B

2.2 Foldable Eye cups

Some binoculars feature a foldable design for eye cups retraction in which cups can be extended and retracted by sliding them up and down. This type of design only offers two eye cup positions, one being fully retracted and the other being completely extended, which means that observers do not have a choice to set the eye cups at a position that they feel comfortable. Foldable eye cups are mostly found on porro prism and some old-fashioned binoculars, while roof prism binoculars feature twisting eye cups. They are also likely to fail sooner than twisting eye cups design because of continuous wear and tear on the rubber with use. The rubber stops providing necessary resistance to applied pressure and will start to collapse with even a slight force. Since twist eye cups have a screw mechanism, they last almost indefinitely without getting loosened.

Eyecups on Binoculars

Interested in Types of Eyecups on Binoculars?

Best Quality of Optical Design

Certain features and characteristics dictate the quality of the optical design in binoculars. Devices that offer longer eye relief without unnecessarily affecting the magnification and field of view employ a series of technical design elements, especially the quality of glass material used for eye piece lenses and their respective positions. Generally, binoculars that lie in the premium category offer longer eye reliefs than mediocre binoculars since they feature advanced optics and significant work goes into their designing and manufacturing.

Apart from eye relief, certain lens materials are more comfortable to our eyes because of their composition, which is why they can be used for longer periods of time without causing eye fatigue. This is especially for hunters since they often have to spend hours in the woods looking for the perfect game and a good set of binoculars enables them to continue their activities without getting in the way of their comfort.

Since a considerable portion of the population wears spectacles nowadays, the provision of features such as longer eye relief and adjustable eye cups to accommodate them are considered in the earlier stages of the design phase. Both the eye relief and eye cups are an integral part of the binocular design and they require extensive attention whenever a new product design is proposed.

What Binoculars Are Good With Glasses?

Below are the most popular and recommended configurations of binoculars for people who wear eyeglasses:

  • 8×42 Binoculars
  • 8×56 Binoculars
  • 10×50 Binoculars
  • 10×56 Binoculars

8×42 Binoculars

These binoculars have a magnification power of 8x and an objective size of 42 mm. This full-sized binoculars configuration is suitable for bird watching and wildlife hunting enthusiasts who wear prescription glasses for correcting vision complications.

8×56 Binoculars

This configuration is popular for low-lighting conditions due to a combination of their large objective lens and magnification power. The 56 mm objective size along with an 8x magnification makes it possible to achieve the largest value of exit pupil in a set of binoculars, 7mm, which makes these binoculars the perfect choice for uninterrupted low-light viewing.

10×50 Binoculars

If you are an avid outdoorsy like most enthusiasts, this is the binocular for you. The large 10x magnification will allow you to see even the feathers of very distant birds and the bigger 50 mm objectives are excellent for dim-lighting conditions. This configuration suits safari viewing, bird watching, hiking and plane spotting activities.

10×56 Binoculars

The 10×56 binoculars are especially suited for wildlife hunting in the woods and they make a great companion with a high-powered rifle scope mounted hunting rifles. The generous 10x magnification has the potential to bring even the farthest of animals up close and the bigger 56 mm objective lenses take in ample light for the binoculars to work in low light. They do tend to be heavy and big.

Eyeglasses wearers are welcome to choose from the above four configurations, because they all take into account features, like longer eye reliefs and multiple eye-cup position settings.

Conclusion on Binoculars for Eyeglass Wearers

For glasses wearer, binoculars with long eye relief values and adjustable eye cups mechanism that offers multiple positions are appropriate. Eye relief plays a vital role for people with farsightedness and nearsightedness, since their glasses lie in between the eyes and eyepiece, resulting in a cropped view with a black ring on the edge. A longer eye relief allows them to keep the binoculars at a distance and view images without the unwanted vignette effect. Similarly, some prescription eye glasses have bulky frames while others are thin, and to accommodate various kinds of spectacles, eye cups with more than three standard positions are favored.

Binoculars come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate professionals and enthusiasts both. Some enthusiasts prefer to use lightweight pocket-sized binoculars, however, they are generally not the best choice, especially for those who wear glasses. While they maybe compact and, therefore, easy to carry, these binoculars may compromise on other important aspects, such as eye relief and field of view. For eyeglass wearers, opticians recommend buying full-sized binoculars which consider all essential characteristics for optimal viewing.

Everything aside, if a set of binoculars is not comfortable for you with eyeglasses, it does not matter how many features it has since they will not be of any use. So, consider trying the models beforehand along with your glasses to know which one suits you better.



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