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Best Scope Options for Shooters with Poor Vision or Old Eyes

By: Will Ellis 

Being an expert marksman is hard enough, but poor vision adds another challenging element to the equation. It’s particularly difficult when your vision deteriorates from aging, because then you need to learn to adjust. Targets that you could previously see with ease are suddenly blurry, and you find yourself squinting for clarity.

Now, obviously there are ways to correct your vision which you may want to consider first. Vision-corrective surgery was the best choice I ever made.

Contact lenses can also give you perfect vision. Neither of those are options for everyone, though. Glasses are, but they’re more limited in what they can do, and many shooters find them to be an annoyance. When you’re out hunting, the last thing you want to deal with is your glasses fogging up or sweat dripping onto them.

That’s why the right scope could be just what the doctor ordered. How can you find a scope and rifle setup will work well for your eyes? We’ll go over the answer to that and scope recommendations below.


Choosing the Correct Optics for the Task at Hand

When you’re deciding on what kind of optics you’ll get for your gun, it’s important that you figure out exactly how you intend to use the gun first.

Will you be hunting with it, or shooting paper targets? Do you want a semiautomatic or a bolt-action rifle? What type of distance will you be using the gun at?

If you’re sticking to the 100 to 300-yard range, many scopes will fit your needs. At 800 yards, 1,000 yards and beyond, there are some options, but they are few and far between.

Some shooters who have issues with their vision find that specific optics are easier to use. For example, there are optics that project either holographic reticles or red dots on the target. These have a more limited range than scopes, but within that range, they may better fit your needs. This is especially true if you’re farsighted, in which case it could be easier to see a projection on the target itself than look at the target through a scope.


Finding the Right Rifle

Your rifle itself is just as important as its optics. Some rifles are best suited for close to medium-range shooting, whereas others are capable of remaining accurate from well over 1,000 yards.

Your rifle setup will also determine what caliber of cartridge you use, and each caliber has its own characteristics. A lighter round, such as 5.56 NATO, could be fine for typical target shooting, but lack the power to handle hunting large game. For that, you may want something large, such as .338 Lapua Magnum.

Bullet Types

Although there are plenty of rifles out there, the AR-15 is a popular choice among shooters for a reason. You can customize it however you’d like. That gives you plenty of potential caliber options and you have the freedom to go with whatever optics fit your needs. Even though the AR-15 may not be the first rifle shooters mention when they think of a long-range rifle, with the right ammo, barrel and a high-quality scope, you can put rounds on a target that’s over 750 and possibly even 1,000 yards away.

If you know what rifle you’re going to use and you want a scope, here’s what to look for to reduce the effect of any vision problems:


What To Consider When Choosing Your Scope


Clear Glass

Yes, at first glance, “clear glass” seems a bit redundant. But even though all glass is clear, just how clear it is can vary significantly. This is one area where you’ll see a marked difference between scopes depending on their quality.

If you have poor eyesight, you don’t want the glass on your scope making aiming any more difficult than it has to be. A scope with sharp glass will give you a better view of your target, along with how the wind is blowing there.


An Objective Lens with a Diameter of 50mm or More

The objective lens is the lens at the end of the scope, closer to the muzzle of your gun, and its diameter will determine how much light it gathers. More light will help you see, and for that reason it’s a good idea to go with a scope that has a 50mm or larger objective lens.


An Illuminated Reticle

An illuminated reticle is intended to make it easier to aim when there isn’t much light, such as those early morning or evening hunting trips. The reticle will usually have either red or green illumination, both of which stand out to the eyes more than a simple black reticle.

Illuminated Reticle vs non Illuminated

Rifle scope without illumination and with illumination.

This is even more helpful when you don’t have the best vision. You’ll likely find the red or green illuminated reticle much sharper.


A Focus Knob

Many scopes include focus knobs, allowing you to adjust the scope to your own vision. You’ll be able to see through the scope clearly even if you aren’t wearing glasses or contact lenses.


The Best Scope Options if You Have Poor Vision

1. Hi-Lux Phenom 5X-30X 56 FFP Rifle Scope

Phenom 5-30X56 FFP

For perfect clarity at just about any range, you can’t do any better than the Hi-Lux Phenom. It adjusts between 5x and 30x magnification, and it’s a 1st focal plane scope, which is quickly becoming a popular style among the long-range shooting crowd.

With a 56mm objective lens, this scope will gather more than enough light. The scope’s glass receives a multi-coat of DiamondTuff14, which helps for clarity and transmitting light. You can choose between a red and green reticle color depending on which is easier for you to see.


2. Hi-Lux Top Angle 4X-16X Rifle Scope

Top Angle 4-16 Rifle Scope

With magnification from 4x to 16x, this Hi-Lux Top Angle scope works very well from short range all the way up to about 800 to 900 yards, although with practice you can likely hit a target that’s even further away. It has the same DiamondTuff14-coated glass as the previous scope, and your reticle color choices include red and green, or you can go the non-illuminated route if the illumination bothers your eyes. The objective lens diameter is 50mm.


3. Hi-Lux Long Eye Relief 2X-7X Riflescope

Long Eye Relief 2-7X

If you need to strain your eyes to look through a scope from just inches away, the Hi-Lux Long Eye Relief scope will keep your more comfortable, as it has an eye relief between 9 and 13.2 inches. This also helps if you wear your glasses while you shoot. Magnification ranges from 2x to 7x, making this scope effective at short and medium range. The lowest magnification setting, in particular, is helpful for finishing off wounded prey when hunting.

The good news is that you don’t need to let eye problems stop you from shooting accurately. It’s all a matter of finding the scope that fits your situation. Clear glass and a focus knob are good places to start, and you may find that a large objective lens also helps. Besides that, consider how much magnification you need to see your targets clearly and what other features you want, such as longer eye relief.

15 Responses

Donald Moeser

Donald Moeser

June 17, 2024

At 82 and poor vision (can read large print text- outdoors everything is simply out of focus) (bright sun also a problem w/ Mac degeneration) (sounds like I’m pretty much of a mess: ) I’ve not got a lot left to do and use to love to target shoot.
Was considering an 177 cal pellet underlever fixed barrel air rifle for target shooting at 50 yards +/- . . . which may be a stretch. So, the scope is the bottom line if this is even going to be feasible. Not sure if any scope might be workable at $250-300 max, but would appreciate any suggestions or comments. Hate to sound like a cheap skate, but it is what it is. Thank you in advance for any suggestions offered.

ken searles

ken searles

November 28, 2023

Hello,
i have had surgery on my right eye, twice, to reattach my retna. my right eye is my dominent eye. it was suggested that i might try red dot scopes or low power scopes. i know nothing of red dot scopes. being a deer hunter for 40 years, i’m not about to give up , just need answers and alot of help.
thank you,
ken searles

Keith Kircher

Keith Kircher

March 02, 2022

I’m glad to see recommendations for weaker eye-sight shooters. Unfortunately, less expensive optics just don’t work so save your time and money. In the order of required attributes, 1. glass clarity 2. eye relief 3. cross hairs that don’t fade or blur 4. sufficient magnification to see your target. I personally prefer small varmint and 1 – 3 hundred bench rest shooting. 17 caliber holes on paper beyond 50 yards are virtually impossible to see with anything so I’ve given up paper punching with them however, they are senior citizen friendly. Rule of thumb is be prepared to spend 2X – 3X on glass that you spend on the firearm or become very good at swapping scopes and bore sighting and get 2 very good scopes. Good luck all and don’t stop shooting because your eye sight is fading, experiment!

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

May 08, 2024

IT IS NOT A FOCUS KNOB! Sorry for shouting but this is a pet peeve of mine.

What you refer to as a “focus knob” is the parallax setting. It removes inaccuracy due to inconsistent cheek weld (among other things but that is the basic idea). The fact that it happens to also bring the target into focus is just a side effect. Most hunting rifles without a parallax knob are hard-set at 100 yards (.22LR sometimes at 50). That means you don’t have to worry about where your eye is in relation to the scope to get an accurate shot (not near or far from the scope . . . but up-down-left-right). Get your rifle very steady and move your head around while viewing the crosshairs. Do the crosshairs stay on point-of-aim or move around. If the former, then your parallax is set correctly. If you don’t have a parallax setting on your rifle, try this at 25, 100 and 200 yards. You’ll see what I mean. If you are wondering why you broke the back of that nice buck last year instead of hitting him in the chest (where you thought you were aiming), this could have been the reason.

With that said, it is difficult to find good information about just how much difference it makes. Is it a quarter inch at 100 yards or 6 inches at 100 yards? I would guess it is closer to a quarter inch. If you think about it, this is kind of obvious because, if it wasn’t true, every rifle would have a parallax setting and everyone would know how to use it. Suffice it to say, for most deer hunters, it doesn’t make enough difference to matter—especially if you practice getting a consistent cheek weld. Just turn the dial (if you have one) until the deer is in focus and make a well-placed shot.

If you are shooting extreme long distance, or you want to reduce your group size on paper at any distance, do your research on parallax to understand what it is, how to apply it and what effect it will have on your accuracy.

I wonder if lasic surgery would help bring old eyes back to their former glory?

Leon potkay

Leon potkay

May 08, 2024

I had a very bad eye infection. Ameba in eye 6 years ago ..1 lense implant and 2 cornea transplants still have a eye but poor vision as my pupil is always dilated so very foggy ,,can’t see through my Burris scope anymore does anyone have a suggestion or similar issue ,,thanks

Fred Wynkoop

Fred Wynkoop

April 06, 2021

Very good information ,but not enough to understand what I can do in optics for BPCR shooting. My guess is good eye relief and well defined cross hairs. We are relegated to have the optical tube no larger in diameter than 3/4 inch.

Hank

Hank

September 10, 2019

I have never tried wearing my glasses to shoot. Do I need to use a special or different scope?

Hank Santos

Hank Santos

September 02, 2019

I have a hard time see my target quickly and focusing fast enough far or near.

Tom Kearns

Tom Kearns

May 04, 2019

I too have aging eyes. For the writer who uses VA for medical care, as I also do, I find VA practitioners are insensitive to us “OLd Guys”. VA standard of practice is to do only the minimum of care so even when there are solutions, you won’t find out.I have switched to better scopes to help my aiming. The amount of light and clear glass are key to me. Good Luck.!

PS A few years ago, I switched to a Burris red dot Speedbead for a sight for my shotgun. I increased my hits by 50%. WOW

Scott Lloyd Cogburn

Scott Lloyd Cogburn

March 06, 2019

You forgot the most important information for folks that are far sighted, and wear bifocals.
FFp. And. Sfp scopes? People with poor vision shouldn’t buy a first focal plain scope…. probably the most important info that you forget.

Scott Lloyd Cogburn

Scott Lloyd Cogburn

March 06, 2019

You forgot the most important information for folks that are far sighted, and wear bifocals.
FFp. And. Sfp scopes? People with poor vision shouldn’t buy a first focal plain scope…. probably the most important info that you forget.

Scott Lloyd Cogburn

Scott Lloyd Cogburn

March 06, 2019

You forgot the most important information for folks that are far sighted, and wear bifocals.
FFp. And. Sfp scopes? People with poor vision shouldn’t buy a first focal plain scope…. probably the most important info that you forget.

Larry Dieter

Larry Dieter

December 04, 2018

This was good to hear because after brain surgery my right eye is not like it used to be—-and that is the eye i shoot with—-thank you for this artlcle

rifle scope to Australia

rifle scope to Australia

April 04, 2018

price for scope suitable for older shooter where glasses…..Cost?

Aging eyesight

Aging eyesight

March 02, 2018

Interesting article. Glad to know there’s choices out there. My VA doctor basically shrugged her shoulders when I asked her what I could do because I was having difficulty seeing through a scope anymore.

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