Ok, I admit it – I’m a man with a passion for gadgets and more specifically, electronics. Interestingly enough, there is one simple gadget that sometimes, I wouldn’t want to be without – my monocular.
For those that don’t know, a monocular is like a miniature, lightweight telescope. Monoculars are used by many people with visual impairments to help see distant objects.
I have had my monocular for a number of years, but it’s only recently that I have begun to appreciate it. (I don’t like to appear ‘different’ and can be quite stubborn at times). At the end of the day, I guess you have to go over the potential embarrassment factor at some point!
So, what is it good for?
Travelling – recall the departure boards at your favourite train station or international airport. Now imagine that you can’t read the text on them (even when you’re standing as close as you can to them, generally getting a really sore neck at the same time. That’s no good when you only have minutes before it departs. Yes, you could ask someone and take the risk that someone is kind enough to tell you the right platform or gate number, but you don’t always find someone that’s co-operative, rather someone that looks at you as if you’re stupid. It takes confidence to ask and generally, that’s what gets knocked within seconds of asking the question! Thus, this is the perfect occasion to pull out a monocular! I find them great for this sort of thing.
Classroom/Lecture theatres – at my university, there was a lecture hall that had a capacity of several hundred students; it was massive. Now, my usual position was in the first couple of rows (not always the first, again, through not wanting to appear different). Sometimes, I would use my monocular, but there was a single main drawback: I had to keep it in my hand, moving it to my eye as I looked up and away again when I went to continue with my note-taking. Other than this, it was very useful, especially when all the seats near the front were already taken when I got there!
Seeing the view – of course, not just visually impaired people would find a monocular useful for seeing scenic views and specific objects in the distance. In fact, when I don’t have my monocular, I sometimes even take photos of distant objects/scenes, just so I can zoom in and take a closer look myself!
Where did I get it?
Interestingly enough, the NHS in the UK isn’t all that bad – my GP referred me to the local low vision clinic and I was given it there, along with some funky glasses (more about those in another post). If you’re not lucky enough to be able to get free low vision aids like this from your health service, a quick google should reveal a number of retailers that sell them.
Don’t be afraid of your appearance – once I got over the issue of using a monocular, it became a great aid. It’s definitely something I’d suggest people with nystagmus try out!