This article aims to help people who have an eye condition such as astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness. The objective of the article is to provide more information about how to allow for this in your bird watching adventures.
Perhaps you are wondering how any of these eye disorders might affect your wish to view birds using an optical instrument such as binoculars or a spotting scope. Depending on what your specific eye condition is, there is different advice on using a spotting scope or binoculars for birding.
In this article, you will find information on common eye conditions such as:
For astigmatism, it is advised to wear glasses when you use binoculars. We will explain exactly why in more detail.
In the cases of other eye conditions, a good quality pair of correctly set-up binoculars can actually compensate for your vision. This means that you can view through the binoculars without needing to wear glasses.
For near sight, it is possible to use your binoculars or spotting scope without glasses. This is provided that the instrument is calibrated correctly to your sight.
Similarly, for far sight, you can ensure the binoculars are set up specifically for your vision. Then you can use them without needing to wear your glasses.
If you would like to discover more about using binoculars or spotting scope in combination with glasses with progressive lenses, then there is a section covering that subject too.
Can I use binoculars with astigmatism?
Yes, if you would normally wear glasses to correct an astigmatism. Using the glasses while looking through binoculars is advised.
For best results, ensure that your binoculars have a suitable eye relief. This allows enough space between your eye and the eyepiece to wear your glasses.
Do binoculars correct astigmatism?
The binocular focal mechanism can counteract some visual conditions enabling people who normally wear glasses to use binoculars without their spectacles.
However, it cannot correct astigmatism. This is because astigmatism is a condition that is due to spherical curvature of the eye.
So in this case of having an astigmatism, it is best to wear your glasses while viewing with binoculars.
Can I use binoculars with bifocals, trifocals or varifocals?
Normally to view through these kinds of glasses, you would look through a specific area of the lens according to what you want to focus on.
You can also do this when using your binoculars. It is more difficult, though, to get the binoculars in the appropriate position. It's important to achieve this correct position so the eye focuses through both the correct section of the glasses’ lenses and in the right alignment with the binoculars.
Bifocals with a clear line can make it easier to see which part of the lens to look through.
Some people may need to take into account being able to see a notebook or field guide clearly. For them, it may be worth requesting that the bifocal area is a smaller section. And that this smaller section is positioned in the lower region of the lens, for when you look down.
Can I use binoculars with glasses with progressive lenses?
The correction power of these multi-focal glasses changes across the face of the lens, without any line between the sections to delineate the different strengths.
With these kinds of glasses, it’s best to practise looking into your binoculars through the relevant part of the glasses’ lens. It's similar to what you would do when looking normally at a distant object. This can take a while to get used to.
You do not need to remove the glasses. This is, of course, unless you find it too difficult to focus when using your binoculars. It depends which is more convenient, adjusting the focus or removing the glasses.
Can I use binoculars with nearsightedness or farsightedness?
Some glasses wearers find that once the binoculars are properly set up for their eyesight using the diopter, they do not need to wear their glasses to view. This is because the customized binoculars compensate for nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Each pair of good quality binoculars will have the ability to be adjusted to suit your own eyesight. They can also address any imbalances between your two eyes. This is done by means of calibrating the lenses.
How calibration helps with near sight or far sight problems
This calibration is particularly important for people who are nearsighted. It also applies for those people with a variance between the sight in each individual eye. This number is probably a lot of us. Although we might not notice it in daily life!
The diopter is the feature on the binoculars that you use to calibrate them. The amount of correction available via the diopter is usually listed in the specifications of the product.
The numbers suggesting how much correction is available can be helpful. But it’s still best to follow the steps below to set up the lens before first use.
In this way you can tailor the binoculars to address your particular sight condition. This can be followed whether you are farsighted or nearsighted.
For further information on this, please see our separate guide >>>
Recap: how to use binoculars when you have an eye condition
With this summary of the different eye conditions that you might have, we hope you have found sufficient information to cover your query. We have provided an overview of the best course of action when using optics for birding with eye conditions such as astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness.
In the different cases of eye conditions, there are separate guidelines. Following these approaches should help you to get the most out of your binoculars or spotting scope.
It is not normally necessary to wear glasses meant to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness when using a good quality pair of binoculars. This is because the binoculars, when successfully calibrated to your personal vision, compensate for your eye condition.
Even though the actual view through binoculars can be just as good without the use of spectacles, though, some people may prefer to still use their glasses when bird watching. This is because having the eye glasses on assists with other practicalities around the hobby.
We have further discussion on whether you should wear glasses when using optics for birding here:
There is an instance when it is advisable to wear glasses in conjunction with your binoculars, however. This is when the spectacles correct an astigmatism.
And while it’s no problem to find binoculars or spotting scopes to use when you are wearing your glasses, there are some factors to be aware of. We cover these factors in detail, explaining why they are important, in this article. It covers the subject of how glasses wearers can choose the right binoculars for bird watching.
- 1 Can I use binoculars with astigmatism?
- 2 Can I use binoculars with bifocals, trifocals or varifocals?
- 3 Can I use binoculars with glasses with progressive lenses?
- 4 Can I use binoculars with nearsightedness or farsightedness?
- 5 Recap: how to use binoculars when you have an eye condition