Following the appearance of ‘glassesbatch’ at the Imitation Game red carpet in September 2014 in Toronto, there have been a lot of questions about whether Benedict Cumberbatch actually needs glasses, seeing as he doesn’t wear them all the time. Well here is the definitive answer - yes he does. Let me explain and here’s the proof.
I suspect Benedict’s lens prescription to be about -1.25 to -1.5 which means that he is myopic (he needs glasses for distance). His prescription means his vision without glasses certainly isn’t clear but it’s not bad enough that he needs glasses all the time. A prescription like this will cause eye strain and nasty headaches, and it will be so much more comfortable with glasses on than without, but someone can get away without wearing them if they don’t want to. These symptoms will be exacerbated if the individual is overworked or tired (which Benedict usually is)
In addition, there are two lots of evidence from Benedict himself…
1) Benedict confimed in an interview (released on 21st Jan 2015) that he is short sighted. See here for the interview and go to 30 mins 35 seconds in- http://londonphile.tumblr.com/post/108752278856/npr-benedict-cumberbatch-on-alan-turings
To support this, here is the actual photographic proof - firstly here is a photo of my old glasses from way back (as my current ones are stronger so I had to go back to these to try to do the comparison). These have a prescription of -1.5 in them, and I used them for watching TV, Cinema, Driving and for when I had a headache or was really tired. I sometimes wore them all the time if I felt like it and it was so much easier and clearer with them, but when I didn’t want to wear them I didn’t have to. I could just about cope OK without them if I wanted to.
As you can see, you can see the power in the lens distorts the image viewed through the lens. It is not a significant distortion, more of a 'slight shift’.
Here now are some recent images of the distortion which can be seen through Benedict’s glasses
This one shows a shift in distortion of the shirt collar behind (photo from TIFF - September 2014)
In this one the distortion can be seen of the window frames behind him (photo from Monaco Grand Prix - May 2014)
Here the distortion can be seen by the girl behind him looking like she has an extra nostril! (photo from TIFF - September 2014)
See how the 'beak’ of the duck on the phone case behind moves when viewed through his lenses. (photo from Imitation Game red carpet at TIFF 2014)
The necklace of the lady behind him 'moves’ to the left when viewed through his sunglasses lenses (Photo from French Open Tennis Final - June 2014)
The window reflected in his lens has moved! (photo from TIFF 2014 Imitation Game Red Carpet)
In this one, the man behind him seems to have grown an extra ear, which he obviously hasn’t, it’s just the prescription in the lens which is making it look like that (Photo from TIFF - September 2014)
The 'E’ of Netflix written behind him has moved and it looks like there are two E’s
At the 'Weinstein After Party’ at the Golden Globes on 11th January 2015. See how the words behind his right lens have 'moved’ and are no longer in a straight line.
This is the most recent, taken on 28th May 2016 at Hay Festival. See the distortion of the frame behind in his lenses.
The most important images however are the following three. These are taken from behind so we get to 'see’ what Benedict sees through his lenses. They are not straight on so we cannot get a clear view but they do show it from 'his’ perspective. Both are from TIFF.
See the fact the base of the building has moved when viewed through his lenses.
See how the grey sleeve has 'moved’ to the right when viewed through his lenses.
This shot from in Poland clearly shows the distortion of the frame in front of him when viewed through his lenses.
There are many many more photos with the same evidence.
The fact he wore them to the red carpet of The Imitation Game in Toronto would make total sense. He had arrived in Toronto 3 days earlier and had an incredibly busy schedule of three solid days of meetings, interviews, photo shoots and press conferences plus Jet Lag. We also know that earlier in that day he was interviewed by Vanity Fair (where he told he’d been asked about his favourite cheese) and his lisp was on show. It’s only ever on show when he’s really tired. So by the time he hit this launch we know he was utterly exhausted probably with real problems with his eyes as a result. So wearing his glasses was the obvious solution (plus the fact he looks REALLY HOT in them!!)
There are photos of him reading scripts with glasses too
(This is him recording William Golding’s 'The Spire’ for Cannongate books in March 2014.)
There are also photos of him reading scripts with his glasses in his top pocket
(This photo is from the recording of 'Zurich’ the final episode of Cabin Pressure, taken on 22nd February 2014.)
The fact he used them for recording this audio book could potentially indicate some kind of 'reading’ glasses lenses but I suspect it’s more the fact his eyes are really tired. (The Spire is a 7 hour audio book after all, which you can probably double in recording time for takes and re-takes - that’s exhausting!) I don’t think his lenses include any plus sphere reading lenses (this would mean he has varifocals and the photos don’t indicate this).
So there’s the evidence. Yes Benedict Cumberbatch does need his glasses. There is evidence of prescription lenses for both eyes in his clear framed glasses and his sun glasses. He doesn’t have a strong enough prescription to need them all the time, which is why he is seen without them, but his vision certainly is so much clearer with less headaches and eyestrain when he does wear them.