Have you ever looked through a pair ofbinoculars or opera glasses and realized that things were much clearer? Binoculars and telescopes magnify the images to allow people to see more clearly. For many years, surgeons and dentists have used telescopic glasses to allow them to see details more easily. This same concept has been used to improve the vision of thousands of people with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and low vision to see plays, ball games, computer screens, artwork, scenery, books, and paintings.
Telescopic glasses consist of a very small telescope that is mounted inside the lenses of the glasses. The telescopes are very small, approximately ½ inch to 3-inches in length, depending on the power of the telescope. Low vision specialists will incorporate the glasses prescription into the telescope and the telescope may be adjusted to focus at various distances. This can be very helpful when shopping, watching plays, and performing craftwork. In fact, a tiny telescope can provide the same level of magnification as a pair of binoculars used to watch a football game!
People with low vision often ask why the telescopes cannot be made to look like regular glasses. The reason is that telescopes and binoculars consist of multiple lenses encased inside the housing while ordinary glasses only have a single lens. In order to achieve the magnification, a minimum of two lenses is necessary.
Telescopic glasses may consist of one or two telescopes. In most cases, one telescope is placed over the eye with better vision. When two telescopes are used, some people may see double when looking at a particular distance. Low vision optometrists subsequently recommend having one telescope placed over the stronger eye or eye with better sight.
Telescopic glasses are legal for driving in most states. In order to drive with a telescopic pair of glasses, people with low vision must have a specialized vision examination by a low vision specialist. After being fit with the glasses, training on how to use the glasses is required before one can take driving lessons. Upon the completion of the driving training, the Department of Motor Vehicles will allow the person to take a driving test to obtain a license.
For more information on telescopic glasses, please call the Center for the Partially Sighted at 310.458.3501 or 818.705.5954 and ask for one of our doctors to assist you.
Bill Takeshita, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.C.O.V.D.
Brett Nagatani, O.D.
Center for the Partially Sighted
Los Angeles, CA