If you’re not familiar with the function of a monocular, think of it as half a binocular. A monocular combines the best features of a binocular and a telescope to create a single magnifying eyepiece that is both powerful and convenient.
Simple monoculars typically contain only two lenses and have a zoom power of up to around 8X, which means objects appear 800 times larger than they really are.
Higher quality units include a prism between the lenses, which allows for higher magnification while still keeping the tool small enough to be hand-held. Like binoculars, you use monoculars to see things in the distance, but some monoculars are designed to assist with close vision like a magnifying glass.
Monoculars are an extremely helpful device for the vision-impaired, specifically those with vision problems in only one eye. A visually impaired person might use a monocular to see distant objects others can see without aid. For example, visually impaired students might use one to see the chalkboard or a projection screen better.
Who else uses this visual aid?
All kinds of people, including the following:
- Whale and sea-life watchers
- Sports fans
- Military and security personnel
Anyone interested in spotting objects at a distance or enjoying taking a closer look at nature can use a monocular.
There are hundreds of styles of monoculars on the market, but our focus is on those specially developed for helping people with low vision. All of our picks are equally useful whether you’ve viewing a whiteboard at the office, artwork in a museum, or trying to add a rare bird sighting to your life list.
Best Overall: Reizen Short Focus 10×25
The Reizen Short Focus is compact and lightweight at only 4.9 ounces and 4.5-inches long. It is easily portable with an included strap for carrying around your neck, and its small size makes it easy to pack into a purse or store in a jacket pocket. The model has 10X magnification and adjusts easily. Users appreciated the sure-grip barrel and comfortable, rubberized eyecup. Along with the neck cord, it comes with a carrying case and lens cloth for cleaning.
Best for Travelers: Carson Close-up Close-Focus
Good-quality, affordable monoculars that fulfill both far- and close-distance vision needs are hard to find. The Carson Close Focus is highly compact at only 2.8 ounces, and we think it’s the perfect monocular for anyone who loves to travel.
All with this one tool, users can enjoy sightseeing, trips to the museum, and read a travel guide. The close focus feature works at up to ten inches from your viewing subject. The Carson Close-Up comes complete with a travel pouch and wrist strap and a limited lifetime warranty.
Best for Extended Use: Beecher Mirage
The Beecher is an advanced vision tool that allows for hands-free use. This head-mounted monocular is worn like a pair of one-sided glasses and fits only the left or the right eye. It is the perfect solution for watching special events such as theater performances, concerts, and sporting events. Be sure to order the version you need.
This model is also helpful for those with low vision who need a monocular for crafts, hobbies. Wearers even utilize the Beecher to watch television. It is lightweight and comfortable to wear with a magnification power of 3.4X. The Beecher Mirage is the most expensive monocular on our list, but it does include an interchangeable close-up lens for added versatility.
Best Gadget: Toyvian Finger Ring Monocular Telescope
The Toyvian Finger Ring model fits in the palm of your hand and is intended for far-distance viewing only. The attached metal loop fits over a single finger like a ring, convenient when you have your hands full. The magnifying power of the Toyvian is low at only 2.5X, which is one reason we classify it as a gadget.
But even though it’s not the most powerful monocular on our list, the single-hand operation still makes it a useful aid. With its budget price, you can afford to buy several to keep in different locations, so you’re never without a monocular when you need one.
Best Tech: Pankoo Monocular with Smartphone Holder
This unit has all the bells and whistles and is especially useful for the visually impaired outdoorsman or outdoorswoman. The design is rugged and durable, and the B4K4 prism provides distortion-free, color-true imaging. It has 12X magnification and can be easily adjusted with one hand. The smartphone attachment and tripod turn the Pankoo Monocular into a top-notch wildlife photography system anyone can use.