Can you use binoculars with glasses? YES – and with maximum viewing pleasure! To use binoculars with eyeglasses, you must first learn how to adjust the binoculars to get the full field of view and a clear image. You will also need to use binoculars with long eye relief.
How to use binoculars with glasses is easy. Fully retract the eyecups, put your glasses on, and use your binoculars to focus on a distant object. If you see shadows around the image, try moving your eyes closer or farther from the eyecups. If you use twist-up eyecups try extending them a bit.
This easy 6-step guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to use binoculars with glasses and make your outdoor adventures even more enjoyable.
It will also teach you the importance of the best binocular eye relief and eyecups, and give you tips on choosing the best binoculars for people with glasses
This comprehensive guide is the one I wish I had when I bought my first pair of binoculars since I have Astigmatism. It is concise, simple to follow, and will provide you with all of the knowledge you need. You’ll be able to use your binoculars with glasses like a pro!
Step by step you will learn about:
- A step-by-step guide on how to use binoculars with glasses
- If you even need to wear glasses with binoculars
- What eye relief is, and why it’s important when looking through binoculars
- How your eyeglass frames and face shape will help determine your best eye relief
- The two types of eyecups and how to use them to get the best eye relief
- The best binoculars for people with glasses
How to Use Binoculars with Glasses
If you plan on wearing your glasses when you use your binoculars, here are the easy steps on how to adjust binoculars for a great viewing experience. Make sure you follow these steps before using your binoculars.
HOW TO ADJUST BINOCULARS
Step 1: Find the binocular eyecups. They are either twist-up or fold-down. If they have covers, remove them.
Step 2: If the eyecups are twist-ups, twist them all the way down. If they are fold downs, fold them down.
Step 3: Put your glasses on, pick up your binoculars, and put the binocular strap over your head. (Make sure to adjust the strap so that your binoculars hang at a comfortable length.) Looking through the binoculars, place your eyes a tiny bit away from the eye cups. There is no need to aggressively press the eyecups against your eyes.
Step 4: Use the focus ring to focus on an object in the distance.
Step 5: What you want to see is the object with no darkening around the edges – you want a full clear image.
Step 6: If you see any darkening around the edges, try one of the following:
- Slowly start pulling your eyes a tiny bit away from the edges of the binocular. You don’t want to pull back too far – but sometimes pulling back a teeny tiny distance can move your eyes to the point of focus. If you still see shadowing around the edges of the image, then do the following…
- If you have twist-up eyecups and you have twisted them all the way down, try twisting them up by one turn. The goal is to see the full field of view without any shadowing on the edges.
Again, make sure to follow the above setup before using your binoculars with glasses. In addition, if you change your glasses, repeat the above steps since the thickness of the frames and the way they sit on your face may be different.
Do You Need To Wear Glasses With Binoculars?
Are you wondering if you even need to wear glasses when you use your binoculars? You may not actually need to wear your glasses when using binoculars. It depends on the nature of your vision issue.
If you are near or far-sighted, you probably do not need to wear glasses with binoculars. The binocular focus ring and diopter adjustment will correct your vision so that you can obtain a clear image.
If you have astigmatism, you will need to wear glasses when using binoculars since the focus and diopter adjustments cannot compensate for astigmatism.
If you are near or far-sighted and don’t need to wear glasses with binoculars, you might want to wear them anyway. This is because taking them off during birdwatching is a time waste and a pain. There is also the risk of losing or damaging them when you remove them.
If you wear bifocal progressive glasses, I recommend buying a cheap pair of line bifocals you can use with binoculars. They will be much easier to use.
Wearing bifocals with binoculars may cause some parts of the image to be fuzzy. Lined bifocals will allow you to see objects that are further away and with a minimum amount of distortion along the binocular edges.
If You Wear Glasses With Binoculars, What Is the Best Binocular Eye Relief?
If you wear glasses, choose binoculars that have at least 16mm of eye-relief. If your glass frames are thick or you have strong features, consider binoculars with an eye relief of 18mm or more. Binoculars with long eye relief will allow you to obtain a full field of view.
Field of view refers to how much of an image you will see when using your binoculars. For example, a wider field of view will allow you to see 20 ducks in a pond. A smaller field of view will cut off the ducks at the edges of the view so that you will see far fewer of them.
Back to the importance of eye relief. Let’s define it…
What Is Eye Relief On Binoculars?
Eye relief is the distance from the ocular lens to the point in space, beyond the lens, where the image comes into focus. Eye relief is also referred to as eye relief length or eye relief distance. If you wear glasses, it is one of the most critical issues to consider when using or buying binoculars.
Let’s take a step back for a minute. Let’s say you are using your binoculars to focus on a bird in the distance. The beam of light that enters the objective lenses, and captures the image of the bird, will travel through the binocular.
It will then exit the binocular via the ocular lenses. The ocular lenses are the small lenses of the binoculars that are nearest your eyes.
When the beam of light exits the ocular lenses, it will actually come into focus at a point in space that is a tiny distance from the ocular lenses. This point of focus is also called the eye point.
This point of focus, or eye point, is exactly where you want to place your eyes so that you can see the entire image without any shadowing around the edges. Placing your eyes at the point of focus will result in a crystal-clear image.
If you place your eyes either in front of or behind the point of focus, you will have a reduced field of view because the edges of the image will look dark.
You may be surprised to learn that every pair of binoculars is made so that it has a specific amount of eye relief. Some binoculars have eye reliefs that are longer than others.
This means that holding your eyes the same distance from the ocular lenses of all binoculars will not always result in the same image quality.
For example, a Nikon Monarch M7 8×42 binocular has a long eye relief of 17mm, while the Nikon Aculon A211 has an eye relief of 12mm.
Why Is Eye Relief Important If You Wear Glasses?
Eye relief in binoculars is important for eyeglass wearers since they will need long eye relief binoculars of at least 16mm. This is because their glasses may get in the way when they try to place their eyes at the point of focus in order to clearly see the entire image.
Remember that you will want to place your eyes exactly at the point of focus which will be a tiny distance from the ocular lenses. But if you wear glasses, and the eye relief of your binoculars is too short, your glass frames will occupy the space where your eyes should be.
That is, your eyeglass frames, and not your eyes, will be at the point of focus.
To get your eyes at the point of focus, you need to either take your glasses off or you need to somehow make the eye relief distance longer (literally lengthen it).
Removing your glasses or increasing eye relief distance will prevent the thickness of your glasses from getting in the way. With longer eye relief, there will be room to move your eyes forward so that they are at the point of focus.
The way to increase eye relief is to retract twist-up eyecups or to fold down folding eyecups.
What Are Binocular Eyecups?
Binocular eyecups are located on the edges of the part of the binoculars closest to your eyes. They are attached to the end of each ocular lens.
Eyecups are either twist-up or fold-down. By twisting or folding down, you can increase eye relief. Another word for twisting or folding down is called retraction.
If you wear glasses, you will want to twist or fold down the eyecups in order to increase eye relief distance. If you do not wear glasses, you should leave them extended.
Twist-Up Eyecups vs Fold-Down Eyecups
Twist-up eyecups can be retracted to increase eye relief and twisted back up to shorten eye relief. Each position is referred to as a “stop” and results in a different eye relief length. Twist-ups may have multiple positions you can set them to. Fold-down eyecups can be folded up or down, and so only have two positions.
Twist-up eyecups that have multiple positions are preferred since you can select the exact eye relief distance that works best for you. In contrast, eyecups with fold-down eyecups only have two eye relief distances to choose from.
Twist-up eyecups often produce a satisfying “click” as they are set to each position.
If you wear glasses, I recommend twist-up eyecups since you can select from more than just an up or down position. In addition, twist-ups are easier to use than fold-downs. Eyecups that fold down can be hard to bend. They can also pop back up on their own and are more likely to tear with time.
Twist-up eyecups are also much more prevalent and so easier to find. Fold-downs are a bit more “old-fashioned”.
Types of Eyecups on Roof Prism Binoculars vs Porro Prism Binoculars
Most roof prism binoculars have twist-up eyecups. Most Porro prism binoculars have fold-down eyecups.
If you wear glasses, I suggest you purchase roof prism binoculars with multiple eyecup positions. In addition to having twist-up eyecups, they are also sleeker and so easier to hold than Porro prism binoculars. Porro prism binoculars have an awkward shape.
Roof prism binoculars are also more durable, with better waterproofing. They are a bit more expensive than Porro prism binoculars, but, in my opinion, well worth it.
I’ve reviewed 4 roof prism binoculars at various price points that I think are the best bang for the buck if you wear glasses. I particularly like the Nikon Monarch M7 8×42 binoculars for birdwatchers who wear glasses. These Nikon 8×42 binoculars also have great lens and prism glass and excellent optical coatings.
My other 3 recommendations (Vortex Viper HD, Celestron Trailseeker ED 8×42, and Celestron Nature DX 8×42) are also excellent. All feature Bak4 or BK7 prism glass, ED Glass for lenses, and excellent lens and glass coatings.
Eyeglass Style Will Also Determine Eye Relief Distance
Eyeglasses with thicker frames will take up more space between the ocular lenses of the binocular and the point where you want to position your eyes for the best viewing experience.
If you are wearing eyeglasses with a thick frame and are trying to position your eyes at the perfect point of focus, your frames are more likely to get in the way so that your eyes are behind that point. This is because thicker frames will project from your face more than thinner frames do.
If you have thick frames, I would look for binoculars that have an eye relief of at least 17 or 18mm. If you have thinner frames, 16mm should be fine.
When using your binoculars, you may want to consider wearing glasses with flatter frames.
Facial Features Will Also Determine Eye Relief Distance
If you have strong facial features – like a jutting forehead or strong nose – you may need binoculars with longer eye relief. This is because your features may not allow you to move your eyes far enough forward so that they align with the point of focus.
What If Binocular Eye Relief Is Too Short Or Too Long?
If binocular eye relief is too short or too long, you will not be able to see the entire image. When this happens, the center of the image will be clear, but the edges of the image will be darkly shadowed and so reduce the field of view.
If the eye relief length is too short, then your eyes will be behind the point of focus because your glass frames will be in the way. If the eye relief length is too long, then your eyes will be in front of the point of focus.
Key Takeaways Of How to Use Binoculars With Glasses
This is what we learned in this article:
IF YOU PLAN ON WEARING GLASSES WHEN YOU USE BINOCULARS
- You will need to know how to adjust binoculars for the best viewing experience.
- If you are looking to buy binoculars, you will need to know how to identify the best types of binoculars for people with glasses.
HOW TO ADJUST BINOCULARS
- Put on your glasses, fully retract the eyecups, and focus on an object in the distance.
- If you see dark shadowing around the edges, either pull your eyes back a tiny distance. If you have twist-up eyecups with multiple positions, twist them up by one stop at a time. Do this until the shadows around the edges disappear and you have a completely clear view.
THE BEST TYPES OF BINOCULARS FOR PEOPLE WITH GLASSES
The best type of binoculars for people with glasses is a roof prism binocular with twist-up eyecups, and a binocular eye relief of at least 16mm. If you have thick eyeglass frames or strong features, go for an eye relief of 17 or 18mm to be on the safe side.
Don’t be shy about selecting binoculars with the maximum amount of eye relief.
Finally, consider the fact that you may not even need to wear your glasses when using binoculars if you are near or far-sighted. However, you may still want to wear your glasses since it is more convenient and there is less likelihood of losing or damaging your glasses when you take them off
For a deeper dive into the above information, check out my articles on the following topics:
- What do binocular numbers mean
- Roof prism vs Porro prism
- Binocular eye relief
- Binocular lens and prism glass
- Prism and lens coating types
- Bird-watching binoculars for people with glasses
Can you wear glasses while using binoculars?
YES – you can wear glasses while using binoculars with maximum enjoyment and viewing pleasure! I suggest using a roof prism binocular with at least 16mm of eye relief (the more the better).
You also need to adjust the binoculars prior to using them: Fully retract the eyecups and look through the binoculars, making sure there are no shadows around the edges of the image.
If you still see shadows, try slowly twisting the eyecups up and/or moving your eyes a tiny distance back from the ocular lenses.
Do you put binoculars up to your eyes?
Yes, you put the binoculars up to your eyes. First, move the center hinge to match the distance between the two eyepieces to the distance between your eyes.
Then hold the binoculars so that the eyepieces are close to your eyes.
Some people like to touch the top of the binoculars against their foreheads while the eyepieces lightly brush against the edges of their eyes or glasses or are a tiny distance away.
Do I need to wear glasses with binoculars?
If you are near- or far-sighted, you probably do not need to wear glasses with binoculars. This is because the binocular focus ring and diopter adjustment will correct your vision so that you can obtain a clear image.
However, you may still want to wear glasses when using binoculars since you won’t have to take them off and risk losing or damaging them.
If you have astigmatism, you will need to wear your glasses with binoculars because the focus and diopter adjustments will not be able to compensate for your astigmatism.
If you wear progressive bifocals with binoculars, parts of the image may be fuzzy. I recommend buying a pair of inexpensive lined bifocals to use with your binoculars.
Why do people who wear glasses need binoculars with long eye relief?
If you wear glasses, you need binoculars with long eye relief because your glass frames will prevent you from moving your eyes close enough to the binocular eyepieces.
If your eyes are too far from the eyepieces, you will see shadows around the edges of the image, and so not get the full field of view.