Getting outdoors and immersing yourself in the natural world around you is fantastic for the soul. There are countless animals, birds, mountainous landscapes and starry skies to enjoy in your lifetime, but to truely enjoy them, having the ability to see them in more detail so you can discover more about them is priceless. That’s why, a set of binoculars can open up a whole new world to observe.
At ScopeUout we’re strong believers that everyone, regardless of their age should own at least one binocular that will allow them to enjoy this beautiful planet in more detail. For many people, choosing a binocular that will suit their needs simply comes down to asking themselves ‘What do I intend to use binoculars for?’. Once they know this, they can then choose a binocular suitable for that activity to really make the most of it. For people who wear eyeglasses, there are also a few more factors that they need to consider whilst choosing the best binoculars for their needs. If you wear eyeglasses and you’ve been wondering whether it’s possible to use binoculars with glasses, and if so, what type of binoculars you need, then read on as this article will tell you everything you need to know when choosing binoculars for eyeglass wearers.
If you’ve tried to use someone else’s binoculars whilst wearing glasses before then you may have found the experience a bit disappointing. The most common complaint is that the image is either blurry or obstructed by dark circles when looking through binoculars with eyeglasses on. This is because not all binoculars are optimised for those who wear spectacles and there are key features that you need to look out for when buying the right equipment to use. In this article we’ll consider the challenges faced when using binoculars with glasses and what features to look out for when picking the best binoculars for use with them.
Choosing the Right Binoculars for Eyeglass Wearers
Do I need to wear my glasses when using binoculars?
Whether or not you actually need to wear your glasses when using binoculars is a very important question to consider before you commit to finding the very best eyeglasses binoculars. The answer comes down to two factors; the reason that you have to wear spectacles in the first place, and your personal preference.
If you only have to wear glasses for nearsightedness or farsightedness then you shouldn’t have any problems taking off your glasses and using the binoculars without them as long as they have a diopter adjustment which will allow you to adjust the focus of each eye individually. This is because the majority of people that wear glasses don’t have the same prescription in each eye, so you’ll never be able to get a perfect focus with binoculars if the eyepieces only adjust together. If you have an astigmatism or some other problem with your eyes then the binoculars alone will not be able to correct for this so you will need to wear your glasses alongside the binoculars.
Even if you don’t technically need to keep your glasses on when using your binoculars, you may choose to for a number of reasons. Firstly, it can be a real hassle taking your eye glasses on and off every time you want to view something. Indeed, in the time it takes to take your glasses off and store them safely, you could have completely missed the animal or bird of interest. In addition, glasses wearers will know that as soon as you take your glasses off your face you’re increasing the risk of either loosing them or breaking them, so if it’s a choice between accidentally leaving them on a rock in the bush, or simply choosing binoculars that will comfortably work with them, the latter option may be of preference.
Now that you’ve decided whether or not you need to wear your glasses with binoculars, let’s take a look at the key features that you need to look out for when choosing the best glasses binocular.
Arguably, the most important factor that you need to consider when choosing binoculars for eye glass wearers is the amount of eye relief offered by those binoculars.
In short, eye relief refers to the distance that you can hold binoculars away from your face whilst still being able to comfortably see the full sight picture through them, without dark and annoying circles starting to appear around the outside of the image, obstructing your view. Eye relief is measured in mm and can typically vary from between 11mm and 20mm depending on the design of the binocular and the size of their objective lenses. Most compact binoculars models which have small lenses, have a short eye relief, whereas models with larger lenses can have longer eye relief measurements.
If you wear eye glasses then you need to be looking for binoculars with long eye relief. A minimum eye relief of around 16mm is recommended but opt for an eye relief longer than this if possible. This means that you can hold the binoculars further away from you eyes to accomodate for the space that your eye glasses take up. All models of binoculars on our website should have the eye relief listed so that you can compare them. There is also a handy filter on our binocular collection which allows you to filter the options down to models with a certain eye relief length.
All binoculars have eye cups. These are located on the eyepiece end of the binoculars and are the part that you hold closest to your face. Their role is to surround the eyepiece and help maintain comfort and improve your viewing experience.
One of the main roles of eye pieces is to help to set and maintain the right amount of eye relief to suit your vision requirements. By adjusting the position of the eye cups, you can optimise the eye relief to match your individual eye characteristics. This is a particularly important feature for eye glass wearers, so choosing binoculars with good quality, easy to adjust eye cups is really important to ensure that the entire field of view is visible without any dark vignetting or loss of image quality.
Eye cups generally come in two designs; either twist up or fold out. Fold-out binocular eye cups are designed to be folded down or flipped out from their default position. These types of eye cups are more basic than twist out models and aren’t as adjustable. They essentially only have two options of either folded down or fully extended which means that they allow for two eye relief distances of either short or long.
Twist out eye pieces can generally be adjusted in a number of small increments. As you twist out and extend the eyecups, you increase the distance between your eyes and the binoculars a few millimetres at a time until you reach your desired eye relief that produces a clearly focused, solid image. If you wear glasses then it’s widely accepted that twist up eye cups are generally the best option as they can be adjusted in smaller increments than fold out models.
Binoculars come in two typical designs; porro prism and roof prism.
Porro Prism Binoculars
Porro prism binoculars were the original design of binoculars when they were first invented. Porro binoculars are made from two prisms which are positioned at a right angle to each other meaning that the objective lenses and eye pieces are not aligned. This gives porro prism binoculars a distinctive V shaped design where the objective lenses are further out than the eye pieces. Porro prism binoculars tend to have a better light gathering ability and therefore better performance at dusk than roof prism binoculars. They also have a wider field of view. However, due to their complex physical structure, they are bulkier to carry around and aren’t as waterproof.
Roof Prism Binoculars
Roof prism binoculars feature a more modern design that became popular in the 1900’s due to their more compact design. Roof prism binoculars have straight barrels where the objective lens and eyepiece are inline with each other. Roof prism binoculars usually have a better waterproof rating and are usually lighter weight than porro prism binoculars which makes them popular with hunters and birders.
Although the overall construction design of binoculars doesn’t have a concrete link and affect on their performance for eye glass wearers, some elements of their typical design do. Namely, most porro prism binoculars tend to come with fold down eye pieces and most roof prism models usually come with twist out. Due to the reasons mentioned above, this usually means that eye glass wearers are more likely to find that roof prism binoculars perform better for them as they allow them to more accurately adjust the distance between the binoculars and their glasses and eyes.
Properly Adjusting Your Binoculars
Using binoculars can be a fantastic experience, opening up your mind to the world around you and allowing you to see it in fantastic detail. Unfortunately, using binoculars can also be a very frustrating experience too, especially if you haven’t adjusted them properly to suit your face and eye sight. This is why it is vital to spend some time carefully adjusting binoculars to your exact needs before you use them. Regardless if you’re an eye glass wearer, properly adjusting binoculars is a really important task to complete.
Let’s take a look at the parts of a binocular that can be tuned up before you use them to ensure an enjoyable viewing experience.
The interpupillary distance of a binocular refers to the distance between the two barrels of the binocular which house the eyepieces and the objective lenses. Most binoculars have two barrels which are connected by a hinge in the middle. This allows you to bend the binoculars at the hinge and either bring the barrels closer together or move them further apart to position the eyepiece lenses in line with your eyes.
To adjust the iterpupillary distance of a binocular follow these easy steps:
- Hold the binoculars in a comfortable position with two hands
- Locate the hinge of the binoculars, or in some cases there will be lever or a wheel control which allows you to make the adjustment
- Put the binoculars up to your face and look through them whilst gradually adjusting the distance of the barrels until the eyepieces sit comfortably on your face. The aim is to align the view from each eyepiece to match your eyes' distance
- Keep adjusting until you see a single, merged image without any overlapping or double vision
- Once you have established the right inter pupillary distance to suit you, there may be a locking feature on the binoculars to prevent this form being changed. Not all binoculars have this feature though so it may need to be adjusted each time
Eye Cup Adjustment
As mentioned previously, all binoculars have some sort of eye cup that can be adjusted. This is for a few main reasons. Firstly, eye cups allow you to adjust the binoculars to suit your eye relief which is particularly important when using binoculars with eyeglasses. In addition, eye cups are usually made from rubber which makes for more comfortable viewing. Finally, the rubberised material that eye cups are made from helps to block out stray light from entering the eyepiece area. By reducing peripheral light interference, eye cups enhance contrast and image quality, especially in bright or sunny conditions. Eye cups tend to come in two different designs, either twist up or fold down. If you wear eye glasses then having good quality, easy to adjust eye cups is highly recommended and we’d always suggest opting for twist up models as they are easier to adjust in small increments.
How to adjust binocular eye cups
Before making any adjustments to a binoculars eye pieces we always suggest referring to the user manual of the exact binocular model you are using. This will allow you to establish with certainty what type of eyepiece design they have to ensure that you are making the adjustments correctly. In general, manufacturers usually design binocular eyepieces so that the optimal eye-relief for that particular binocular is at the same distance as the eye-cups are when fully extended or folded out. This means that if you don’t wear eye glasses then as a rule of thumb, you should always have the eyepieces fully extended to get the best view without any dark rings forming around the outside of the image you see. But when it comes to setting eye pieces for eye glass wearers, the opposite is often the case and you will need to have the eye pieces fully retracted, or folded down to ensure that you have enough space for your glasses. Everyone has slightly different vision and everyones glasses are different thicknesses and sit at different distances from their faces so you may find that you require the eye cups to be almost entirely retracted but not quite.
Fold down binocular eye piece adjustment
Fold down eye pieces only have two positions; folded down or folded out
For most models you simply locate the softer, rubberised part of the eye piece and fold the rubber part open towards your eyes or down towards the binoculars to adjust for eye relief.
As discussed previously, as these types of binoculars only have two settings, it’s not as easy to accomodate for your exact eye relief requirements. It may be that as you wear glasses you need quite a long eye relief, but that by folding the eyepieces down you have too much eye relief, and folding them out provides too little. Unfortunately, with these types of design there is little middle ground. That’s why, where possible we’d always suggest twist up models.
Twist up binocular eye piece adjustment
- In general twist up eye pieces allow for more incremental adjustment of eye pieces as they can be set at a range of distances
- Start with the eyepieces retracted and twisted in towards the binocular barrel as tightly and closely as they will go
- Take a look though the binoculars with your glasses on and establish whether you can see dark rings around the outside of the image with the eye pieces in that position. If you can’t, then they’re in the right position to suit your eyes
- If you can see dark circles, twist the eye pieces out one notch or turn and check again
- Play around with the eyepiece location until you can comfortably see through the binoculars with no dark circles appearing
Using diopter adjustments with eye glasses
The diopter adjustment of a binocular refers to a small dial located on the end of one of the eye pieces that allows you to compensate for the difference in vision between your two eyes. After focusing the main central focusing dial, the diopter can be adjusted to fine tune the image to be as sharp as possible. The diopter adjustment of a binocular is particularly important for people who do not wear eye glasses as the subtle differences between the strength of their eyes has not been compensated for at all by any other equipment. Eye glass wearers have essentially already had their nearsightedness, shortsightedness and astigmatism compensated for by their eye glasses so the diopter adjustment may not be of such huge important to them. If you wear eye glasses and would like to continue to wear them whilst using binoculars then we would advise focusing the binoculars with the central focus first and then only using the diopter if the image that you can see isn’t quite as crisp as you would like it to be. For some people, this may not be required at all, but some eyeglass wearers may need to make minor adjustments. If you usually wear eye glasses but would prefer to use your binoculars without them then you should be able to do this as long as you don’t have an astigmatism. In this case simply follow the steps below.
Steps for adjusting the diopter with or without eye glasses
- Place the binoculars to your eyes and adjust the interpupillary distance (IPD) to match the distance between your eyes
- Close the eye that does not have the diopter adjustment dial on it and use the centre focus to adjust for this eye independently
- Open the eye that is looking through the barrel with the diopter and close the other eye. Adjust the diopter by rotating the adjustment mechanism until the view appears sharp and in focus for the eye you are currently using
- Open both eyes and look through the binoculars to ensure that the view through both eyes is equally sharp and clear. If needed, make slight adjustments to fine-tune the focus for each eye until you achieve optimal clarity
- Once you have set the diopter adjustments for both eyes, make sure to lock the diopter adjustment mechanism so it doesn’t get changed accidentally
Additional Tips for Better Viewing Experience
Regardless of whether or not you wear eyeglasses, it’s important to take into account a number of factors related to a binoculars quality when choosing the best binoculars for your needs. This will ensure that you get the very best viewing experience for your requirements and for your budget.
If this is the first time buying binoculars then we’d advise taking a look at our huge library of buying guides for specific activities. Be sure to keep in mind that if you do wear glasses then you’ll need to follow the advice in those guides regarding image quality, durability and application, whilst also opting for binoculars with a long eye relief and twist up eye cups.
As a rule of thumb we always advise spending as much as you can on binoculars to ensure that you get the very best quality. Look for binoculars with high quality, HD lenses where possible and choose ones with as many good quality lens coatings as possible. In addition, choose waterproof binoculars wherever possible and, if you can, opt for models with a rainguard protective finish on the lenses to prevent water pooling on them in damp conditions.
For comfortable use, we’d suggest opting for binoculars that are as light as possible for their size class and come with a neck strap for optimal weight distribution. If you plan to use larger binoculars for prolonged periods of time then you might also want to consider a tripod for supporting them for a steadier and more comfortable viewing experience.
Adapting to Different Viewing Conditions
Regardless of whether you are using binoculars whilst wearing eye glasses, adapting to different viewing conditions while using them can greatly enhance your experience. To be able to adapt effectively, it’s important to keep in mind the things that you can do to make for the most enjoyable viewing experience.
Viewing in different light conditions
If you’re using binoculars in bright sunlight then you may experience a certain level of glare. To try and minimise this, use a sunshade or hat with a brim to help block direct sunlight which will reduce glare and improve image contrast and clarity.
If you plan on using your binoculars in low light conditions then this is an important factor to keep in mind during the binocular buying process. For low light use, opt for binoculars with a large exit pupil. This usually means choosing binoculars with a standard magnification of around 8x or 10x and an objective lens diameter of 42mm and up. Lenses of this size will allow as much light as possible to travel into the front of your binocular and reach your eye. For the best low light performance we also advise opting for the best quality binoculars you can afford and always choosing those with fully multicoated optics.
Viewing in damp or wet conditions
If you’re planning on using binoculars in the bush or countryside then it’s likely that you’ll encounter some damp, humid or exceptionally wet weather at some point in time. Due to this, it’s vital that you plan for this ahead of time and ensure that your binoculars are well equiped to be exposed to those conditions. When purchasing any binocular for use outdoors, it’s best to choose a waterproof model that is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged to prevent them from fogging inside. Where possible, a model with water repelling coatings on its lenses such as those from Bushnell is a great idea. These features help to keep the binoculars dry inside and on their outside lenses so that you can continue to use them in damp settings. It’s also a great idea to keep a lens cleaning set with micro fibre cloth handy to dry the binoculars further if need be, alongside drying and cleaning the lenses of your eye glasses if they get wet.
Caring for Your Eyeglasses and Binoculars
If you’ve been wearing eye glasses for a while then you’ll know how important it is to take good care of them by trying to keep your fingers off their lenses, cleaning them only with special cloths and lens cleaning equipment and storing them in their case when not in use. Well, the same rules apply for caring for binoculars. Wherever possible don’t touch the lenses of your binoculars. This will prevent them getting greasy fingerprint marks on them and also help to reduce the chance of you introducing any tiny bits of grit on to them that may scratch them. If you do need to clean them then it’s vital you do so with proper lens cleaning equipment such as this option from Zeiss. When you’re not using your binoculars keep them in their case to protect them from bumps and scrapes and also lens scratches. There are some fantastic binocular storage cases on the market (such as this one from Ridgeline) that allow you to wear the binoculars in a special pack on your chest and then pull them out at a moments notice. This helps to keep them safe but also accessible.
In addition to taking good care of your binoculars you can also make some good choices when purchasing binoculars that will reduce the chance of them getting damaged. First of all, always opt for binoculars will a rubber armour to protect their body. In addition to this there are also binoculars on the market that have special scratch resistant coatings applied to their lenses to prevent them from becoming damaged if they are exposed to abrasive materials. There are a few binocular brands that offer this including Bushnell and Vortex.
Highest Quality Optics From ScopeUout
We hope that this article has provided you with some valuable information regarding how to use binoculars if you’re a wearer of eye glasses, the binocular features to look out for when choosing binoculars for use with spectacles, and how to adjust the binoculars to make the most of them. The most important factors to consider are eye relief and eye cup design. We try hard to include information about these features alongside all of our product information to make choosing the right binoculars to use with glasses as easy as possible. If you’re not sure which binoculars will be best suited to a specific viewing application, be it with, or without eye glasses, then we have a heap of handy buying guides that you can check out here. If you have any questions at all we’re always happy to help.
Check out all of our binoculars now and use the handy filter on the side to find the right binoculars to suit your exact needs.