Hands-free Telescopes for Low Vision

The following article discusses the wide variety of hands-free telescopic devices that are available for people with low vision, as well as the many benefits of using these devices over hand-held options.

Hands-free Telescopes for Low Vision in Olympia

Low Vision Telescopes

There are many effective devices to assist low vision patients with everyday tasks. Such visual impairments often occur from glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. One of the frustrations of people with low vision is their inability to engage in routine daily activities, such as driving to the market, reading, writing a check, or recognizing the faces of friends and families. The psychological impact of losing these abilities can be devastating. 

Fortunately, there are a wide range of high-quality low vision telescopes today to improve distance vision (and other aspects of vision) and to allow people to resume normal lives. These telescopes include both hand-held and hands-free options, the latter including those that are affixed to the head, worn on a hat, or worn like spectacles. Additionally, low vision telescopes may be focusable or they may have a fixed focus.

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What Are The Benefits of Hands-free Devices?

There are many advantages to using a hands-free device:

  • Having your hands-free is essential for such activities as driving, holding a phone, eating, mowing the lawn, or doing a puzzle.
  • Elderly or disabled people can have difficulty with holding objects steady for extended periods of time.
  • Some activities may be difficult with a hand-held device, such as reading a paperback book on the train, reaching for an item in the supermarket, or shooting a basketball at the free throw line.
  • Hands-free options are always available, because you are wearing them. You don’t have to look for them, or remember to use them. 

Our low vision optometrist will provide guidance as to what will help each patient achieve their visual needs. To find out if these devices are right for you, speak with our low vision doctor to find out more.

Types of Telescopes: Galilean (also known as full diameter) and Keplerian Models

Telescopes typically come in Galilean and Keplerian models. The following are basic differences between the two:


  • focusable
  • provide a wider field of view than Galilean models
  • heavier and longer than Galilean


Galilean (full diameter)

  • fixed and focusable options
  • smaller and lighter than Kepler models
  • provide a more narrow field of vision
  • ideal for long distance vision from a stationary position
Types of Telescopes: Galilean (also known as full diameter) and Keplerian Models
Which Hands-free Telescopes Are Available?

Which Hands-free Telescopes Are Available?

Hands-free options include devices that are mounted on spectacles and those which can be attached to a hat or worn on the head. 

  • Bioptic telescopes: These spectacle style telescopes are helpful for drivers who require improved distance vision. It allows the wearer to switch between magnified and standard views. Sometimes, these glasses provide the requisite improvement in vision which enables people to safely drive a vehicle according to their state's DMV laws. Many U.S. states permit the use of these telescopic glasses for driving with vision loss.
  • Reading telescopes: These telescopic glasses are binocular and are favored by specialists for aiding people with reading materials and in partaking in other activities that require close-up vision.
Which Hands-free Telescopes Are Available?

Are Hands-Free Telescopes Right for Me?

The inability to partake in everyday tasks and activities because of low vision complications can be devastating on one’s self-confidence and independence. Thankfully, with advancements in medical technology today, there are many high-quality low-vision devices to improve quality of life. A hands-free telescopic device often provides improved vision for people with low vision while allowing them to retain the use of their hands.

Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Low vision telescopes are prescribed following a comprehensive vision evaluation to assess for visual acuity. If you have low vision and would like to find out if hands-free telescopes are suitable for you, contact our low vision optometrist at (360) 491-2121. Patients with low vision visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of low vision services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.

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Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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