Can Binoculars Hurt Your Eyes | Are Binoculars Safe for Eyes

  • By: Michaela King

When it comes to the eyesight, you are better off not taking any chances. Damage to the eyes can often alter the way you do many things in your everyday life. So, you should be well aware of the effect that the use of some optical devices may have on your eyesight. Can binoculars hurt your eyes or not? We take a look at it in this piece.

Do binoculars really affect eyesight

Even if you don’t happen to be a regular binocular user, there are likely to be times in your life when you have to use one. Most of us aren’t going to look at birds or the stars or do some sort of investigating with the help of such gadgets. However, you might just decide to better enjoy the sights on that rare sightseeing trip.

In such instances, it is important to know how the usage of binoculars will affect your eyes. Quite often, it is not so much the binoculars that are harmful. Rather, it is how you use them and what you are trying to see by using them.

For example, if you decide to look at the sun through a pair of binoculars, then you are very likely to end up with some permanent damage to the eyes. We will discuss this in detail a little later in the piece.

Binocular vision

Your visual system is very much dependent on proper eye coordination and alignment. When this alignment and coordination is not what it should be, you are likely to develop problems with your eyesight.

What you see is actually the outcome of signals that your brain receives from your eyes. And the brain receives them from both eyes simultaneously, hence the term “binocular vision.”

The info that the brain receives as part of these signals is different from both eyes. In other words, the brain receives different types of information and signals from both eyes. If your binocular vision is well-functioning, then your brain will be able to use these varying signals and pieces of information to correctly ascertain distances as well as coordinate the movement of eyes properly.

Can binoculars hurt your eyes if they are out-of-alignment?

A pair of binoculars works on the same principle of vision alignment and coordination. If the pair of binoculars that you are using happens to be “out of alignment,” then you may start to experience eye strain and headache issues.

do binoculars hurt eyes

In general, the mechanism of a binocular is such that the two eyepieces fitted side-by-side supply an image to each eye. Your eyes and then your brain work to blend these images together to give you a clear picture of whatever it is you are looking at.

However, in order for a pair of binoculars to do that effectively, both the fitted eyepieces must be parallel and in perfect alignment to one another. That may or may not always be the case because binoculars experience and undergo many different things. They might be accidentally dropped, sat on, or knocked over.

These things often lead to the messing up of the binoculars’ alignment. When that happens, they will not point in the same direction any longer and you will probably have to strain your eyes in order to get the two images aligned and see a clear picture. This may cause a fair bit of headache as well as strain on your eyes and may lead to eyesight damage. You can read my guide on how to hold binoculars steady for a stable image view.

Effect of binoculars on the eyesight

In essence, the real danger to your eyesight is not from the pair of binoculars itself. It is the improper usage of the instrument that often causes problems for most people. Like out-of-alignment and faulty binoculars are likely to cause strain and headache, there is also the question of what you are looking at through the binoculars.

Many people tend to think that they can look straight into the sun through their binoculars. This is an absolute NO and if you have ever done that or were planning to do so, then you need to get this thought out of your mind once and for all. No matter what happens, you should not look at the sun without the use of a solar filter.

Also, you may accidentally end up staring straight into the sun. A gentle and inadvertent gaze around a field, ground, or some other type of open area may lead to staring directly at the sun. In such situations, it is advised to look away as soon as possible. You should keep that accidental stare as short as possible.

The damage to the retina from staring too long at the sun is a pretty serious matter. Because what you are looking at becomes larger through binoculars, a bigger part of your retina is exposed to the sun which can lead to great damage to your eyesight.


So, the answer to the question “can binoculars hurt your eyes?” is simple “IT DEPENDS”. If the pair of binoculars you are using is properly aligned, then you don’t need to worry. If not, then you should get both your binoculars and eyesight checked. And NEVER look at the sun through a pair of binoculars. These things weren’t made for such things. Make sure you use proper solar equipment if you want to take a look at the sun.

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