So, not exactly sure where to put this but I wanted to pass on my recent experiences regarding using scopes and binoculars with eyeglasses. Hopefully people from the various other forums will catch this and pass it around.
I have had severe astigmatism corrected with eyeglasses since I was 6 y.o. (now 59). This has always made using any optical instrument - binoculars, telescopes, rifle scopes (I’m an avid shooter as well) a pain, more so since recent life changes have enabled me to devote more time to astronomy. I never tried contacts as I was always told that they would not correct the astigmatism and I would still need to wear glasses if I went to contacts. So I never did.
With my prescription, I find myself moving my head around at the EP trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where the correction in my eyeglass lens matches the exit pupil focus point and the image is (relatively) clear. Typically, there is always some distortion, even with anti-reflective coatings, high refractive index lenses and whatever else they have told me might help out. Still, I never see stars as pinpoints unless below mag 5, planetary images have ghosting and are oblong which can be changed by moving my head so it is seeing through a different part of the eyeglass lens. Basically, I stand at the EP and crane my head around trying to get the right correction between the eyeball and the EP. With Binos, this is really difficult. Image degradation due to my eyeglasses has always been disappointingly obvious.
At a social event with my wife, I met an Optometrist who said that the contact lens technology has improved and severe astigmatism is now correctable with contact lenses. He could give me a set of contacts with focus at infinity and my astigmatism corrected so I could use my scopes and binos without eyeglasses. I would still need a pair of ‘readers’ for close up work (reading star charts, futzing with filters and such) but they could hang from my neck and be out of the way during viewing. The exam, a trial pair, fitting, initial supplies and 6 daily use pairs would be $219 – less than my last EP purchase.
Last Monday I was fitted and came home with the contacts in, and of course, it was cloudy. Not too bad though, some sucker holes so I put out the 20x80 Vixens and waited for dark. It was already late enough that waiting for either the 8” or 12” to cool would put me past 11 PM and it was a work night so the scopes stayed inside.
Let me tell you, using binos for the first time without glasses is an amazing experience! Being able to push my face into the correct viewing position (blocking out all the peripheral light) made all the difference in the world. The contacts worked beautifully! A minor focus adjustment and the images were clear and bright. There is still some spiking from bright stars and occasionally the contacts move, especially when viewing near zenith, causing some loss of resolution but a couple blinks with my head level and the contacts reposition themselves and I’m ready to go again. The most surprising thing is I actually see more stars now – I’m guessing that there is a difference in transmission between my eyeglasses and the contacts but I can definitely see more stars with the contacts than with my eyeglasses – maybe a full magnitude more stars!
It took till last night before I had enough time and semi-clear skies to get the 12” dob out and try the contacts with it (I am still adjusting to them and not using the contacts for 8 hours per day yet). Another amazing experience! More stars, clearer images, more comfortable viewing and those used TV EP’s I have been buying of late – NOW I know why people think they are so great! Wow! It’s like getting all new equipment!
To summarize, I would like to recommend to anyone with a similar vision problem to investigate contacts as a way to dramatically improve your experiences in Astronomy. I know some people have such bad issues they have gone to EA Astronomy and for some of those people, this may put them back at the eyepiece letting those actual photons from those ancient stars impact their retinas instead of some phosphor-generated photon. The cost to me seemed minimal compared to what I have invested in Astronomy-related equipment and the improvement as dramatic as anything I can remember.
I hope others can read this and get the benefit that I have.
Edited by Mike G., 02 April 2015 - 08:57 AM.