Do you need to wear glasses with binoculars?

Do you need to wear glasses with binoculars?

Do you need to wear glasses with binoculars? This is a common question often is asked around the forums and different places on the internet, and a not long time ago I got approached by a person who asked me this specific question, therefore, I wanna give you a clear answer, and in details to explain as best as I can.

Do you need to wear glasses with binoculars? No. Because of ocular lens diopter adjustment, you are able to adjust each individual eye to match the exact diopter you may need to watch through binoculars without the need of glasses.

As simple as it looks, this simple it may be. However, you may be able to watch through binoculars even with glasses but for this reason, I am going to extend this post and cover all the possible scenarios to help you through.

Watching through binoculars with glasses

binoculars with and without glasses

If, for some reasons you feel comfortable to wear glasses when you watch through binoculars, or you may need to do it due to some medical conditions, most of binoculars manufacturers tried to cover this scenario by creating an adjustment cup in front of each ocular lens (not all binoculars may have it), letting you to adjust the right distance between your eyes and the ocular lens.

It is well known that the right distance between the ocular lens and the human eye is about 13-15mm, therefore, when you wear glasses with binoculars, because of the distance between your eyes and the ocular lens increases, you need to adjust the cup level to get the right optical distance to watch through binoculars.

The eyecup from the ocular lens can pop in and out, allowing you to set the optimum distance if you wear glasses (such as pop it back in with glasses or pop it out without glasses).

If required, you can also adjust the diopter level to match your eyes diopter, but if you wear the glasses to correct your vision, this may not always be necessary.

Watching through binoculars without glasses even if you wear ones.

diopter adjustment of binoculars

Now, this is the sweet spot and great advantages of watching through binoculars. You do NOT always need to wear glasses in order to get a perfect image.

Think about the diopter adjustment as being a great tool to correct your vision impairments when related to it. But how do you do correct it?

How do you correct the diopter adjustment for your eyes?

  • Take the binoculars in your hands and watch through them without glasses.
  • Cover the right front element with a cup or your hands so you can see through only with your left eye.
  • Now adjust the FOCUS until the left eye got into perfect focus on an object seen from afar. DO NOT TOUCH ANYMORE THE FOCUS RING AFTER THE OBJECT IS ON FOCUS.
  • Next, move your cup or hand to cover the left front element, so you may see only through your right eye
  • Now adjust the diopter adjustment ring (STILL, DO NOT TOUCH THE FOCUS RING) until your right eye is in perfect focus.
  • All done. Now both of your eyes are adjusted to watch through binoculars without glasses.
  • Now, all you would need to do is to use only the focus ring to focus on the right scene or subject and not at all the diopter adjustment ring (unless this decalibrates and need to recalibrate it again)

This is a really simple way to do it, but you may come across some other types of binoculars which do not have the same diopter adjustment or focus ring structure, such as Skymaster 25×100 binoculars, as shown in the photo below:

2x diopter adjustment for binoculars

In the case of this Skymaster binoculars, you do not have the focus ring at all, but instead, you have two diopter adjustments which act as a focus adjustment. Two tools in one.

Relatively simple, this process would work the same when adjusting your diopter levels:

  • Cover one objective lens with your hand or a cup
  • Adjust the focus/diopter level on the other side.
  • Then do the same, cover the other objective lens with a cup or your hand
  • And then adjust the focus/diopter level of the opposite side.
  • All done. Your binoculars should be not only in focus but adjusted to the right diopter you may require for both your eyes to watch through them.

The advantages of the first version of binoculars with only one diopter adjustment are that once you do it, you do not need to adjust them again, and every time you focus on different distances, theoretically, your binoculars should be in focus every time.

The disadvantages come to the second version, the Skymaster, wherever it is easier to simply adjust to get the required focus, this process you may have to do it over and over again when focusing on different objects or scenes at different distances.

As an instance, if you are using those or similar binoculars only for astronomy, as the stars, planets and the moon are both into a relatively infinite distance, you may never have to touch those rings again

But if you want to focus on closer subjects, such as buildings and ships on the sea, etc, you may need to adjust both of the focus/diopter rings again.

What is better: To watch through binoculars with glasses or without glasses? What about the contact lens?

This is a basic and straight forward answer to that: for the best experience to have when watching through binoculars I recommend to do observations without glasses if possible.

You can wear glasses when you watch through binoculars, nothing is wrong, but keep in mind also that not always this will be this possible, and the scenarios are different from a person to one another, but in general, you should be able to watch through binoculars with and without glasses.

What about the contact lenses? The contact lenses should have no impact in observing through binoculars, as the distance between your eyes and the ocular lens should remain the same, however, if you feel uncomfortable watching through binoculars with contact lenses, I would say to try it without and see how it goes.

I do not have contact lenses so I cannot give you a guaranteed right answer, but as my knowledge and researches, this should not be a problem after all. However, if you want to share your opinion or experience, please leave a comment in the section below.

The negative experience of watching through binoculars with glasses

This is a key point I have to mention due to the fact that you may have a negative experience when watching through binoculars with glasses, and for a few reasons I am going to list them below:

  • The glasses may affect/reduce the amount of light goes to your retina, as we have an extra glass element. This can have a greater impact if your glasses do not have any coatings or do have UV filter layers.
  • Same as the above, if your glasses are not perfectly clean or they are scratched, the quality and the amount of light which go through is diminished
  • The rubber eye-cup from the ocular may leave prints on your glasses, pretty much every time you watch through binoculars.
  • If you are doing night sky observations, I would strongly recommend watching through binoculars WITHOUT glasses in order to get the best experience out of it.


The conclusion would be that you may have a bit of negative experience if you are watching through binoculars with glasses but nothing to be overcome, however, I would recommend that you are giving it a try without the glasses and see how it is.

The negative part would be if you are sharing the same binoculars with somebody else (e.g. two of you goes for birdwatching) and you have to adjust the focus ring and the diopter level, both of you, every time you are sharing the binoculars.

In this case, if the budget allows you, why not to get a pair of binoculars for yourself and not to share, only to enjoy the immersive experience of modern optics to observe the nature, wildlife and everything else through a pair of new eyes.

Now, there’s one more article we wrote that I want to share it with you, are binoculars bad for your eyes?, where we cover everything is to know about how binoculars can affect your eyesight.

It is hard to say goodbye, but I will say it for now. Thank you for remaining until the end of the post, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment in the section below.

Do not forget to give us a share to spread the love and to check our other blog if you are interested about photography. Thanks a lot and have a nice day!

Gabriel Mihalcea

Passionate about binoculars, photography and blogging with years experience behind, I love to split my time and observe the beauty of this world with different eyes.

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