What Is Eye Relief On Binoculars [Explained]

In Binoculars one of the features to look at when choosing the right one is eye relief. Eye relief refers to the distance between the eyepiece lens of a binocular and your eyes when you view through them. It determines the optimal distance at which your eyes can comfortably see the entire field of view without experiencing any eyestrain or loss of image quality.

It is one of the important features to look because of the following reasons.

Provide a Comfortable viewing experience: If your binoculars have adequate eye relief it will allow you to maintain a comfortable distance between your eyes and the eyepieces. This is particularly important for individuals who wear glasses, as it allows them to position their eyes at the right distance for unobstructed viewing.

Reduced eye strain: Insufficient eye relief can cause eye fatigue and strain, especially during prolonged observation periods. By providing ample eye relief, binoculars ensure that your eyes can relax and focus effortlessly on the subject, minimizing the risk of discomfort or eye-related issues.

Ideal for people with different eye conditions: People with vision impairments, such as nearsightedness or astigmatism, may need to wear glasses while using binoculars. Sufficient eye relief accommodates the space required for glasses, enabling those individuals to enjoy the full field of view without compromising image quality.

Suitable for outdoor enthusiasts: Whether you’re birdwatching, stargazing, or enjoying other outdoor activities, binoculars with generous eye relief offer convenience and flexibility. They allow you to wear protective eyewear, such as sunglasses, without sacrificing the viewing experience.

What is Eye relief?

eye relief example

In the field of optics, eye relief refers to the distance between the eyepiece of an optical device, such as binoculars or a telescope, and the observer’s eye at which the full field of view is visible. It is typically measured in millimeters (mm) and is an essential parameter for comfortable viewing.

There is a close relationship between eye relief and field-of-view eye relief.  It is closely linked to the field of view (FOV) offered by an optical device. As the eye relief increases, the FOV tends to decrease, and vice versa. This relationship is crucial because a larger FOV allows you to observe a wider area, while sufficient eye relief ensures comfortable and unobstructed viewing within that field.

What are the factors influencing eye relief?

There are a few factors that can increase or decrease the eye relief. Here are some factors you need to consider if you are planning to get binoculars with eye-relief features.

Eyeglasses or contact lenses users need additional eye relief-Eyeglasses or contact lenses Individuals who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses require additional eye relief to compensate for the distance created by the lenses. The eye relief must be sufficient to accommodate the corrective eyewear while still providing an unobstructed view of the entire FOV. Some binoculars are specifically designed with longer eye relief to cater to eyeglass wearers.

The positioning of eyes and binoculars- Each person’s eyes are uniquely positioned, and the distance from the eyepiece to the eyes can vary. Factors like the distance between the eyes (interpupillary distance) and the position of the eyes within the eyecups can affect effective eye relief. Binoculars with adjustable eyecups can cater to these individual variations, allowing users to optimize eye relief for their specific needs.

Types of Binoculars you are using- The design and construction of binoculars significantly influence the available eye relief. Certain optical systems, such as porro prism binoculars, tend to provide longer eye relief compared to roof prism binoculars. The placement and design of the eyepieces, as well as the overall ergonomics of the binoculars, play a role in determining effective eye relief.

Other Internal factors- the optical elements within the binoculars, such as the eyepiece design and the presence of lens elements, can impact eye relief. High-quality binoculars often incorporate features like long eye relief eyepieces, specially designed eyecups, and lens coatings to optimize the viewing experience and provide comfortable eye relief.

Is eye relief important in binoculars?

eye relief example by nikon

Yes, Eye relief is one of the important features to look out for in binoculars. If you still have a doubt I have listed the benefits of using eye-relief binoculars below.

Comfortable viewing experience

Eye relief in binoculars ensures a comfortable viewing experience by allowing users to maintain a natural and relaxed viewing position. With the right eye relief, you can comfortably position your eyes at the correct distance from the eyepieces without straining or contorting your neck or face. This is particularly important during extended observation sessions, where comfort plays a crucial role in enjoying the experience.

Reduced eye strain and fatigue

Insufficient eye relief can lead to eye strain and fatigue. When using binoculars with inadequate eye relief, you may have to press your eyes too close to the eyepieces, resulting in discomfort and strain. This can cause fatigue and affect your ability to observe for longer periods. Sufficient eye relief ensures that your eyes are at a relaxed distance from the eyepieces, minimizing strain and allowing for prolonged and enjoyable use.

Ideal for eyeglass wearers

Many people who wear eyeglasses rely on binoculars for various activities. Adequate eye relief is essential for eyeglass wearers as it accommodates the additional distance created by the lenses. With the right eye relief, individuals can keep their glasses on and still maintain the correct distance from the eyepieces. This ensures unobstructed viewing, without any loss of field of view or image quality.

Accommodating individuals with different eye positions

Each person’s eyes are positioned uniquely, and the distance between the eyes and the eyepieces may vary. Sufficient eye relief caters to these individual differences, allowing users to adjust the binoculars to their specific eye positions. Binoculars with adjustable eyecups or longer eye relief provide flexibility, ensuring that everyone can achieve the correct viewing position and maximize the quality of their observations.

Ensuring a full field of view

Eye relief is crucial in ensuring that you can see the entire field of view offered by the binoculars. If the eye relief is insufficient, you may experience a phenomenon called “vignetting,” where the edges of the field of view appear dark or obscured. Adequate eye relief ensures that you can position your eyes in a way that the full field of view is visible, allowing you to enjoy the complete visual experience and not miss out on any details.

How to know the eye relief of binoculars?

After you know the definition of eye relief and its benefit you probably want to check the eye relief of your current binoculars, Here are some ways you can follow to know the actual eye relief value of your binocular.

Manufacturer Specifications: The most straightforward way to determine the eye relief of a binocular model is to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications. These specifications often provide the exact measurement of the eye relief distance.

Physical measurement: You can measure eye relief using a ruler or calipers. Align the ruler with the eyepiece lens and measure the distance between the eyepiece and the point where your eye should be positioned for optimal viewing. Just look below I have written a technique to calculate the eye relief value.

Visual estimation: Another method involves visually estimating eye relief. Position your eyes at a comfortable distance from the eyepieces and adjust until you see the full field of view. Measure the distance between your eyes and the eyepieces.

How to Calculate eye relief using the triangle similarity method?

The triangle similarity method can be used to calculate eye relief when the relevant measurements are available. This method relies on the principle of similar triangles.

  1. Measure the distance between the eyepiece lens and the point where your eye should be positioned for optimal viewing (let’s call it “A”).
  2. Measure the distance between the eyepiece lens and the point where your eye is actually positioned (let’s call it “B”).
  3. Measure the distance between the eyepiece lens and the field stop (the point where the image is formed) inside the binoculars (let’s call it “C”).
  4. Apply the triangle similarity principle: The ratio of distances AB and BC should be equal to the ratio of the actual eye relief and the calculated eye relief. So, eye relief = (AB/BC) * calculated eye relief.

What is better for eye relief on binoculars?

Determining suitable eye relief for different users Determining suitable eye relief depends on individual factors such as whether you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, your specific eye position, and personal comfort preferences. Here are some guidelines:

For Eyeglass wearers: If you wear eyeglasses, consider binoculars with longer eye relief, typically around 15mm or more. This ensures that you can maintain a comfortable viewing distance even with your glasses on, without compromising the field of view.

For Non-eyeglass wearers: For individuals not wearing eyeglasses, eye relief between 10mm and 15mm is generally considered sufficient for most users. However, personal preferences may vary, so it’s important to test different binocular models to find the eye relief that feels most comfortable to you.

For Individual Variations: Individual variations in eye position and facial structure can affect optimal eye relief. Look for binoculars with adjustable eyecups, which allow you to fine-tune the eye relief to your specific eye position.

It’s recommended to try out different binocular models and adjust them to your eyes’ comfort. The suitable eye relief should provide a full field of view, a comfortable viewing experience, and accommodate any vision correction needs you may have.

Remember that eye relief is an essential consideration when selecting binoculars to ensure optimal viewing comfort and enjoyment.

Impact of eye relief on binocular price and Performance

Eye relief can impact both the price and performance of binoculars. Here’s how it can influence these factors:

Price: Binoculars with longer eye relief tend to be priced higher compared to those with shorter eye relief. This is because designing and manufacturing optical systems that provide longer eye relief can be more complex and may require additional engineering and higher-quality components.

Performance: Adequate eye relief is crucial for comfortable viewing and optimal performance. Binoculars with generous eye relief provide a more relaxed viewing experience, reducing eye strain and allowing for extended observation periods. They also accommodate eyeglass wearers and ensure a full field of view. Higher-quality binoculars often prioritize providing sufficient eye relief, resulting in enhanced performance overall.


Eye relief is a crucial factor to consider when selecting binoculars. It determines the distance between your eyes and the eyepieces, directly impacting your comfort, viewing experience, and overall performance. Adequate eye relief ensures a comfortable viewing position, reduces eye strain and fatigue, accommodates eyeglass wearers, caters to individual eye positions, and ensures the full field of view is visible. It enhances the overall usability and enjoyment of binoculars.


Can I use binoculars with short eye relief if I wear eyeglasses?

It is generally recommended to choose binoculars with longer eye relief if you wear eyeglasses. Short eye relief may result in a reduced field of view or difficulties in maintaining a comfortable viewing position. Longer eye relief allows you to keep your glasses on while still enjoying a full field of view.

How can I measure eye relief on my binoculars?

Eye relief can be measured using a ruler or calipers by determining the distance between the eyepiece lens and the point where your eye should be positioned for optimal viewing. Alternatively, you can refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for the eye relief measurement.

Can I adjust the eye relief on all binoculars?

Not all binoculars have adjustable eye relief. However, some models offer adjustable eyecups or eyepieces, allowing you to customize the eye relief to your specific eye position. It is recommended to check the specifications or product descriptions to see if the binoculars you are interested in have adjustable eye relief.

Does longer eye relief always result in better image quality?

While longer eye relief is generally desirable for comfort and accommodating eyeglasses, it does not necessarily guarantee better image quality. Image quality is determined by various factors, including the optical design, lens coatings, prism type, and overall build quality of the binoculars. It is important to consider all these factors in conjunction with eye relief when evaluating the image quality of binoculars.

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Hi, My Name is Bikram Chhetri. I love to research, write and share my Knowledge.

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