What are Telescopic Lenses and Who Benefits from Wearing Them?

What are Telescopic Lenses and Who Benefits from Wearing Them?

Posted on Jan.11, 2016, under Eye Health, Low Vision Info, Low Vision Tips, The Eye

It seems that those with retinal disorders like macular degeneration are very familiar with the need for magnification for close up work – like reading, writing bills, and performing hobbies.  Reading magnifiers are usually the first visual aid obtained by those with low vision.   However, there is less awareness for the need to magnify distance vision.  Even though most people have used binoculars before to watch a sporting event, a theater production or just for bird watching, they often don’t associate that this same technology can be useful to their everyday living.   Telescopic glasses not only allow objects or views to appear larger, but thanks to high definition optics, also brighter and clearer.

Ocutech a company that develops and offers bioptic telescopes explains the importance of bioptic vision this way, “Distance vision … is often a public activity, and impacts social interaction and hence quality of life. The loss of the ability to see body language and make eye contact can be isolating and can contribute to depression amongst the visually impaired. Loss of distance vision usually impacts independence and self-worth much more so than loss of reading and it cannot readily be replaced through other modalities.”

How Telescopic Lenses Work

A telescopic lens mounted inside the lenses of prescription glasses are available in different powers as determined by a low vision optometrist.  The ability to focus the lenses for varying distances allows the wearer to enjoy outdoor scenery, a baseball game, TV shows, people’s faces, movie viewing, or an opera. In some states, telescopic lenses make it possible for people to drive.

Why Can’t They Look Like Regular Glasses?

The disadvantage of telescopic glasses is that they don’t look like normal prescription glasses.  The telescope is mounted just over the eye.  Regular prescription glasses use a single lens while binocular vision requires several lenses.  Some low vision patients require just one telescope mounted over the eye with the better vision, while others benefit from two telescopes – one mounted over each eye.   There are different types of telescopes that provide different powers of magnification, wider field of views, and some are smaller and lighter than others.   The higher the magnification the smaller the field of view.


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN