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Using Binoculars with Glasses

Binoculars, also known as field glasses are optical devices which allow you to view distant objects with both eyes; if you are an eyeglasses wearer, then it means you’ll be viewing through the binoculars with extra eyes! This may be a bit of a hassle especially when you’re not properly guided, but there’s no need to worry; this article will definitely be of help. 

Do you know that recreational activities and hobbies like hunting, hiking, fishing, stargazing, climbing, travelling, birds watching and outdoor sports are interesting? However, they are more fun with a pair of binoculars to help you view distant objects, or even help you get a wider coverage of the environment. 

However, if you’re an eyeglasses wearer, you don’t just need any pair of binoculars; you need binocular with the right specifications to accommodate your eyeglasses. 

Still don’t understand? We will explain more below: 

The Ultimate Compact Binoculars Buying Guide

 Buying Guides Use binoculars with glasses

What Do We Mean By This?

People who do not wear eyeglasses may not find it difficult using binoculars; they have good eyesight already; they only need to focus on the object they are viewing. However, people who wear glasses may find a bit of trouble using binocular. Wearing a lens to look through a lens may be frustrating, but it is not impossible. 

But the question is, why would one wear glasses while making use of binocular? Binocular already has an eyepiece lens, so wearing glasses while using them may be a bit of trouble. But should this stop you from capturing beautiful moments? Not at all! 

People have eye defects that may need glasses to correct; however, this shouldn’t get in their way of using a binocular. It is possible to remove your glasses each time you want to use your binocular and put them back on when you’re done, but you wouldn’t want to keep up with this hassle for long.  

You may end up breaking your glasses or misplacing them. Worse still, you may miss that beautiful view within three seconds of removing your spectacles, thereby missing out on the fun. There’s no need to worry though, you only need the right specification of binocular and follow a few instructions, and then you won’t have issues using your binocular while wearing glasses. 

Who Needs To Wear Glasses When Using Binoculars?

Not everyone that wears glasses needs them when using binoculars. If your spectacles are mainly for correction of far or nearsightedness, then you don’t need to wear them when using your binocular as the correction can be made using the diopter adjustment ring of the binocular.  


Guide – Learn how to use binoculars with glasses 

However, people that fall in the categories bellow need not to remove their eyeglasses when using binocular. 

Using Binoculars with Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a situation whereby the lens or cornea of the eyes has an irregular curvature. When this happens, light rays entering the eyes are not adequately refracted, leading to the formation of a distorted or blurry image. Astigmatism causes headache and eyestrain and can be corrected using prescription glasses. 

While far or nearsightedness is corrected by diopter adjustment, the same cannot be done for blurry and distorted images. Hence, the need to wear glasses while using binoculars; you wouldn’t want to see distorted images of your favourite birds or animals! 

Dioptre Correction Bigger Than +/- 5dpt

Diopter correction is a term for adjusting the diopter of the binoculars to enable you to focus on the image in view. The diopter adjustment ring is simply a ring on the optical device which allows you to fine-tune the pictures you view.

In other words, you make use of the diopter adjustment ring to sharpen images; however, it does not alter the focus of the lens of the binoculars. Therefore, if you will need a dioptre correction bigger than +/- 5 dpt, then there is no need to remove your eyeglasses when using the binoculars.

While some people would rather remove their glasses when using binoculars, a lot of people prefer to wear theirs. This is not just a matter of choice but also a matter of convenience. Of course, the benefits of wearing your prescription glasses when using the binoculars cannot be overemphasized. Firstly, you won’t have to strain your eyes or bother about incurring headache afterwards. Also, you won’t fret about misplacing your glasses or mistakenly stepping on them. The best part is, you get to capture every moment without missing even a split second.  

However; in the past, there were only a few binoculars suitable for eyeglasses wearers. These binoculars were designed to have a long eye relief of about 16mm or more. The eye  relief makes it possible to see the whole image, without dark edges. But today, almost all binoculars support wearing of glasses; this is thanks to the fact that most product feature long eye relief of 16mm or more.

Importance of Eye Relief

The eye relief is the short distance between the eye and the eyepiece lens of the binoculars; it is measured in mm (millimetres). When the eye relief is short, you won’t be able to view the full image. Also, when your eyes are too far away from the best eye relief, the image becomes smaller. 

As an eyeglasses wearer, you need binoculars with more extended eye relief. This is because your spectacles further shorten the distance between your eyes and the eyepiece lens of the binoculars. Hence to make up for the lost range, you need a more extended eye relief. 

The best eye relief for people who wear glasses when using the binoculars is 16mm or more. However, people who do not wear glasses may be comfortable using binoculars with eye relief less than this. Also, relief greater than 16mm is enough and still perfect for eyeglasses wearers. 

People who wear glasses find a bit of trouble using binoculars with too short eye relief. This is because they won’t be able to see the full field of view, and the image in view may have dark edges (this is known as vignetting). Vignetting occurs when there is a black tunnel around the edges of the field of view. 

Not only does short eye relief causes vignettingit also strains your eyes due to continuous efforts in trying to focus on the image. Therefore, it is pertinent for glasses wearers to make use of binoculars with a relief of 16mm or more. 

Eye Relief
Source: ZEISS. Guide – Use binoculars with and without glasses

Adjustable Eyepieces 

There are parts of the binoculars which you can adjust to help you focus better on the image and also to enable you to get a clearer picture of the field of view. The eyecup is an example of adjustable eyepieces. 

The eye cups are mostly made of rubber, but can also be made of plastic. They are located around the eyepiece lens of the binoculars. Some products come with the eyecups attached to them, while some do not; hence, you’ll need to buy external eyecups. Eyecups are necessary for proper eye support. 

You can adjust the eyecups to achieve optimal distance for comfortable viewing, depending on whether or not you wear glasses when using the binoculars. Non-eyeglasses wearers are advised to extend the eyecups for more convenient viewing. In contrast, glasses wearers should retract the eyecups so they will be on the same level as the eyepiece lens. 

This is to reduce the distance between the binoculars and the eyes since the spectacles will form an obstruction. However, the best eyecups are made of rubber because they allow better contact with the glasses and do not slip. Eyecups are also known as eye shields or sun shades because they prevent sun rays from entering the eyes. 

There are two common types of eyecups: 

Twist Up Eye Cups 

These eyecups can be twisted upwards or downwards for better viewing and are most common in roof prism binoculars. Glasses wearers twist the eye cups downwards to accommodate their glasses, while people who do not wear glasses twist them upwards to get a more unobstructed view. 

Twist-up eyecups are very easy to use and also easy to achieve optimal distance for comfortable viewing. With this type of eye cups, it is possible to get at least two different positions; and up to 5 different positions. 

Binoculars eye pieces
Binoculars eyepieces (Twist-up – upper row, Foldable – lower row)

Foldable Eye Cups

These eyecups are found mostly on traditional Porro binoculars and can either be folded or pulled up for better viewing. They are made of rubber to allow easy folding, and there is usually the problem of wear of the material; hence this type is often not the best option. 

Glasses wearers need to fold or retract the eyecups to accommodate their glasses. In contrast, people who do not wear glasses need to pull or extend the eyecups to lengthen the distance between their eyes and the binoculars for a more unobstructed view. 

Optics Trade guide– Eyecups on Binoculars:

Porro or Roof Prism 

In optics, a prism is commonly made of glass. This glass consists of (at least) two smooth faces at acute angles, which create colours of the spectrum for the absorption and dispersion of light. Optical devices are usually made with BAK4 glass prisms which improve the refraction of light. 

The function of the prism is to increase the pathway of light, from the objective lens to the eyepiece lens of the binoculars; without increasing the actual tube length of the optical device. 

There are two common types of prisms used in binoculars: 

Porro Prism Binocular

A Porro prism binoculars consist of two prisms at the right angle to each other. The eyepiece lens does not align with the objective lens; hence light entering the binoculars needs to travel intermittently across the prisms.  

However, a prism type does not have a direct influence on the suitability of use with glasses but may have an indirect impact. This is thanks to the fact that most Porro prism binoculars have foldable eyecups and as earlier discussed, foldable eyecups are not often the best option; especially for people wearing glasses. There is always the problem of wearing of the material, and you can only get a maximum of two positions. 

One premium feature about the Porro prism binoculars is its superb dusk performance and wide field of view. However, due to their complex physical structure, they are bulky to carry. It may also be challenging to find Porro prism binoculars with waterproofing features; hence it doesn’t last as long as the roof prism binoculars. 

Roof Prism:

Roof Prism binoculars come in different styles with the two prisms connected differently. However, one notable feature of roof Prism binoculars is that the objective lens is in alignment with the eyepiece lens; hence the binoculars have a straight tube. They have simple physical structure and are easy to carry about.  

Roof Prism binoculars have more superior waterproofing features and last for more extended periods. They also have twist-up eyecups, which is best for people who wear spectacles. However, they are more expensive, can have a narrow field of view and the light transmission rate is not as superior as that of Porro prism binoculars. 

Source: Celestron. Guide-  Binocular with Roof Prism vs Porro Prism

Lens Diameter

Lens diameter is the diameter of the outer-most part of the lens. It determines the wideness of the lens. It is essential to check the lens diameter of the binoculars you’re about to buy because proper eye relief is easier to achieve with a bigger lenses.  

Although it is more convenient to buy compact and pocket-sized binoculars, they usually have short eye relief; therefore, they’re not the best choice of binoculars, especially for people that wear eyeglasses.  

However, binoculars with more extended eye relief are more expensive; also, there are binoculars with smaller lenses that can also achieve proper eye relief, but they are also on the high side. 

Conclusion – How to use Binoculars with Glasses

When you go camping, fishing, birds watching, stargazing, hiking, or when you’re at the stadium watching your favourite players; every moment is precious, and you wouldn’t want to miss any. That’s why you need a pair of binoculars to view those moments, no matter how far away you are from the scene.  

If you are an eyeglasses wearer, you don’t have to worry because it is possible to use binoculars with glasses, only pay close attention to the features of the binoculars you want to buy. 

The importance of proper eye relief cannot be overemphasized; this is a rule of thumb for eyeglasses wearers. You don’t want to miss out on the full field of view, or have black circles around the edge of your image. Hence, it is crucial to buy binoculars with a more extended eye relief of 16mm or more. 

Also, twist-up eyecups, mostly found in roof prism binoculars is advisable for eyeglasses wears. This is because they are easier to adjust, and you can get up to five different positions. Bigger lenses diameter is also advisable because it makes for easy achievement of proper eye relief. 

However; to sum it up, you need high-quality binoculars for best viewing. But then, “high-quality binoculars” is not the name of a product! It may be confusing and a bit difficult to spot the best binoculars in a regular sports store or even in an online shop, not to mention when you’re an eyeglasses wearer! But there are features to look out for that will help you select the best pair of sports binoculars; they’re listed and explained below. 

Proper Eye Relief: The eye relief of best binoculars for an eyeglasses wearer must be 16mm, nothing less! Anything above 16mm is even better. 

Eye Cups: Twist-up eyecups made of rubber is best. This makes for better contact with the eyeglasses and also prevents slipping. 

Type of Prism: Roof prism is the best for eyeglasses wearers thanks to twist-up eyecups which are easy to adjust. They are easy to carry and last for more extended periods too.  

However, for higher light transmission rate and something you can easily afford; Porro prism binoculars will be a better option. When it comes to the type of prism, the choice is yours to make! 

Lens Diameter: Binoculars with bigger lenses diameter are often the best binoculars because, with them, it is much easier to achieve proper eye relief. 

There are lots of fun moments to enjoy, and wearing glasses shouldn’t get in the way. So the next time you’re going hunting, fishing, or on your way to the stadium, grab a good pair of binoculars and let the fun begin! 



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