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.

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.

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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 a low vision optometrist.


  • I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

    Claire A.

  • Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

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  • My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

    Teresa S.

  • The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

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