When a person has poor vision, magnification can help them see better.
By increasing the size of the thing the patient cannot see, the patient is able to see it.
Our low vision optometrist at our Los Angeles Low Vision clinic is residency trained Dr. Sarah Wolff. She explains that during a low vision evaluation she places a significant emphasis on discussing with the patient about where magnification will make the biggest impact and how it will be used. Understanding patient goals is the key to determine the ideal device for a patient.
When it comes to magnifiers, most people think of handheld magnifiers as the easiest to use. These can be purchased at a drugstore. They are usually quite large. However, they are usually not very high magnification. 2x magnification is standard and 3x is maximum. And while that will work for quite a lot of things, it doesn't work for everything. However, the big window is a nice feature. That's why they usually have a bigger window whenever the magnification is lower. Magnification of this type is used to quickly look at something. A great tool if you need to read a phone number or look at a recipe. If you were trying to read a newspaper with a magnifier like this, it would take so long. It's not very convenient for long-time reading because you'd have to move it around. The issue with hand-held magnifiers is that you have a smaller view and you have to move your hand around, so it doesn't always flow nicely. Trying to do that becomes somewhat cumbersome.
Handheld magnifiers with lights are also available. These magnifiers have the option to turn the light on and off. Their magnifying power is a bit higher so the window is bigger. Even though there can be some glare, it can actually help when the reading material has a darker background.
A stand magnifier is still one of the most commonly prescribed low vision devices. Standard magnifiers are placed on the page. Ideally, you would place it on a table and then just move it along. This allows you to have a more comfortable reading experience when you read a newspaper on a table. It also features 2.5x magnification and a large window. As the magnification increases, the window gets smaller. Another benefit of a stand magnifier is that it comes with a light. Whenever you are reading in a dark space, it is best if there is a light in the magnifier because otherwise it becomes very dim and it is much more difficult to read.
Dome magnifiers fall between handheld magnifiers, which are meant for short-term reading, and stand magnifiers, which are meant for long-term reading. They keep your hands free while reading. There is more light coming through, so everything is perfectly clear. A full case blocks the light. A lighted mechanism would then be necessary. However, this is pretty simple for desktop use.
We are lucky to live in a world with technology that assists people with vision loss. Most of us carry around a low vision device without realizing it, a phone.
Our phones can be adapted to use for contrast, magnification, and much more.
These are digital based handheld magnifiers that can provide a wide range of magnification powers, contrast improvements, and other tweaks that make reading more accessible.