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Wearing glasses/spectacles whilst birding

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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 13:14   #1
mikeprince
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Wearing glasses/spectacles whilst birding

I'm looking for some advice from those who use, or choose to not use, glasses whilst birding.

Age is unfortunately catching up on me and I now need to wear glasses for close work. Whilst birding my distance vision is still excellent, but I can no longer comfortably see my notebook or phone or a fieldguide! I have progressive lenses for normal use but don't find them comfortable for birding: I miss having a wide and clear field of view, as well as the inconvenience of using them in the first place. And then there's the relatively cheap plastic between my eyes and super expensive quality bins! Since my distance vision is still pretty much perfect I'm definitely happier without any glasses for birding, but need to solve the notebook and phone problem.

I was recommended bifocals to give a wider clear distance view than my progressives, whilst solving the close reading problem. However I think that just wearing simple reading glasses on a strap around my neck, taking care to avoid it getting tangled with the bins strap, might actually be most convenient. After all, I'm looking for, and at, birds much more often than I'm noting anything down or using my phone.

I'd consider contact lenses but am not sure that multifocals would be easy to get used to.

Any thoughts from experience?
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 13:34   #2
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I have the opposite issues to you, although the effects are similar - I'm short-sighted (although not hugely so, -2.00), can see close-up fine without glasses, but with age my corrected vision (with glasses or lenses) means I can't see close up.

For some reason I cannot get away with using glasses with binoculars, I prefer to take them off to look through the bins - which my relatively OK vision allows me to do without adjusting the eyepiece. However this wastes valuable time in getting my binoculars to my eyes, and I can't then check where a bird has gone to without the bins as my distance vision is too poor...

My solution is to wear contact lenses, and carry reading glasses in some readily accessible pocket (in winter the inner pocket in my padded gilet is ideal, as cheap readers are safe enough without a case) when I need to add something to my list or refer to a field guide. I've tried varifocal lenses and they're really don't suit me, and don't give you the quality of quick adjusting long-range vision you need for birding. I don't see that bifocals would make much sense for you either, especially when your long-distance vision is still fine.
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 13:34   #3
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Hi Mike

Can't help a lot here, as I have to wear my specs all the time, even for driving now.

I remember back when I got my first pair of multifocals, was completely comfortable with them within an hour. Much easier than bifocals, which I found almost impossible to use with bins (the dividing line across the lens was just a real pain for focusing).

I think you really need to discuss this with your optician and find out what he can suggest for you.

What about a wee recorder to make your notes on. Not thought about the phone / field guide problem yet... perhaps someone else has ideas.
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 13:37   #4
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I need reading glasses and just use a pair I bought in Sainsbury's. I keep them in my bag as it isn't often that I need to read/make notes when out and about birding.
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 13:40   #5
mikeprince
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kits View Post
it isn't often that I need to read/make notes when out and about birding.
I'm constantly making notes: the curse of eBird!
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 13:40   #6
andyadcock
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Have you considered making vocal recordings then transcribing them at home?

The other option would be surgery!
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 13:47   #7
Euan Buchan
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I wear glasses at all time even through binoculars and telescope.
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 13:48   #8
Mike C
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Like kb I have the opposite issues to you - I'm extremely short-sighted (approx. -6) I can see close-up fine without glasses, but anything further than 10 inches away is a blur. Glasses on/off to use binoculars isn't feasible.
I'm currently on my third different pair of varifocals.
The first two pairs were fabulous for birding, notebook, fieldguide, etc.
The current pair aren't as good - probably the shape of the lens (too fashionable !! ) and where the best long distance area lies on the lens. Don't get me wrong, they do work, both with my "best" bins and the spare pair I keep in the car they work well but they are a bit tiring for a full day out (i.e. a full day birding on Scilly)
Luckily I have a pair specifically for short-sight and they're great. Making notes (notebook and pencil sometimes give way to a Dictaphone) isn't as easy and reading my pager or phone takes a few goes but not insurmountable.

Last edited by Mike C : Tuesday 21st January 2020 at 13:50. Reason: spellong
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 13:58   #9
mikeprince
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyadcock View Post
Have you considered making vocal recordings then transcribing them at home?

The other option would be surgery!
Too much effort to do vocal recordings: I generally do complete species lists all the time, and my past 12 days produced 57 separate lists with up to 70 species on each: not enough hours in the day to do catch up with that!

Surgery is an option...
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 14:08   #10
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I know quite a few people who use "nose pinch" readers for situations similar to yours. They are fairly flat and compact, with either a slip-case, or a lanyard to carry them. Some people just carry the small slip-case in their pocket, some have it attached to the back side of their phone. You can even buy combination cases here. I am not endorsing this brand, just the first thing that popped up in my search.
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 20:29   #11
Keith Dickinson
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Hi Mike,
Like you, I have reasonable distance vision but need help for near. I use multifocal specs all the time but for birding I have a pair made up with the lenses set 1mm lower than the ideal position, this gives me a larger distance area and compromises the near area only a small amount. The only time I will use my binoculars and telescope without my spectacles is in very low light levels as then it just seems better without the specs.
There are newer designs of multifocal spectacle lenses available now than have differing biases with the ratio of distance to near so maybe one of the more distance orientated esign may work well for you.

I would not advise multifocal contact lenses as the compromise for your distance vision will be too great to reap any benefit from - with the contact lens you do not have separation between distance area and near area as you do one a spectacle lens, the power change is from the centre of the lens going outwards so everything is happening at once in front of your eye. I am a contact lens optician and whenever I fit multifocal contact lenses I always warn people that they will not have 100% for distance vision. If you have a strongly dominant eye it may be possible to fit a lens for near to your non-dominant eye, a technique known as monovision whioch can work quite well.

As has been said before talk to your optician about your problem and they should be able to help.
Reading spectacles on a cord round your neck just get caught in your binoculars and finish up being chucked away... I have been there.
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Old Tuesday 21st January 2020, 21:49   #12
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Hi Mike,

I have similar problems to yourself! I wear “varifocals” (I think others have called them multifocals) all the time. I have not experience any problems and got used to them quickly. If you go for that option I would recommend as deep as you can (top to bottom), this gives a more gradual change from distance to close up, and get the wide (left to right) option that places like Boots (other opticians are obviously available lol) offer as this improves your peripheral vision.

Let us know how it goes :)
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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 00:06   #13
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I used to wear contact lenses, then 40 came along and I needed reading glasses, followed by a trial of multi/vari-focal contacts which I had to remove within a very short space of time as both close and distant vision was considerably compromised and the world seemed no longer in sharp focus.
I now wear vari-focal spectacles and as I have never been able to cope with either bins or 'scope while wearing them, push them on top of my head when birding. (Or take them off and hold them firmly in one hand if on a boat!) It means they are in place for writing in a notebook or reading a map and easily pushed out of the way for actual birding. With or without foldable eyecups I just cannot use a 'scope, bins or DSLR camera while wearing them. I know that doesn't help you much and it is awkward at times - like when wearing a woolly hat in winter - but I manage OK.
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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 03:23   #14
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I've worn glasses since I was about 7. I now have multifocal lenses. It took some getting used to, but they work. I leave them on when I use my bins, but raise them on my head to use my scope (I have photochromic lenses, so I get brighter views through the scope with them off).

I have to say, my experience is you can get used to either approach. It just takes time and experience.
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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 11:38   #15
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Thanks all for the responses. I will probably get a pair of more distance-oriented varifocals that should improve on my current pair, but also persevere with no glasses and conveniently placed reading glasses in a pocket for as long as I can manage!
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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 20:17   #16
Lisa W
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Hi Mike, can’t see a thing without my glasses. Well, I do see blurs. I’ve tried the progressive or varifocals as you call them and can’t wear them. My eyes just won’t adjust. I use the binoculars through my lens 90% of the time, occasionally I will flip the glasses up and just use the binocular without them. It is honestly a pain. Good luck with your problem and I hope you find a good solution.
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Old Thursday 30th January 2020, 13:07   #17
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been wearing varifocals now for years. never had a problem using my bins with the. The knack is to ensure that you do not have the eyecups too far out and that you have the bins level. The only time i have any issues is when looking out at an angle and therefore not centering the bins. One issue that I do find, since I changed my glasses, is that my bins tend to push the specs too close and then they steam up!
I do tend to use my scope with the glasses off, especially at high magnifications.
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Old Sunday 2nd February 2020, 18:07   #18
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I, too, have worn varifocals for quite a few years. With those and my hearing aids (new), I sometimes feel as if I'm birding while wearing a sort of helmet. Having said that, I haven't had any problems using bins, scope or eBird. The main downside to glasses is that they mist up when the weather is cool and damp. (Hearing aids are amazing but I'm having to get used to looking for the bird that is calling at a far greater range than I tend to expect! - and the sounds are rather different because I'm hearing notes that I didn't hear previously). By the time I've got all the gadgets, I'm carrying round quite a valuable haul!!
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