What low-vision aids are available?

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Many devices can help people with low vision make the most of their remaining vision and to function better and enhance their quality of life. Different devices may be needed for different tasks. Before purchasing a device, consider talking to a trained professional who can help you determine what will best meet your needs. Remember that you will need training and practice to become skilled at using any device.

OPTICAL LOW VISION AIDS 

Optical low vision devices use lenses to magnify objects, making them easier to see.

Magnifying spectacles are stronger than ordinary glasses. They can be used for near tasks such as reading, threading a needle, or any activity that requires close, detailed vision. Using them requires holding the printed page or object closer than usual in order to keep things in focus. With practice, this becomes comfortable. An advantage of magnifying spectacles is that the hands remain free to hold the reading materials or perform tasks.

Stand magnifiers rest directly on the reading material, keeping the lens at the proper distance from the page. Some stand magnifiers also have a built-in light. The ability to rest the magnifier on the page is useful for patients with a tremor or arthritis

Hand magnifiers are available in varying strengths to suit different people and different tasks. Reading material is not necessarily held as close to the face as with magnifying spectacles. Some models come with a built-in light. High-quality and high-powered magnifiers are often available only in specialized stores or through vision rehabilitation professionals.

Telescopes are used for seeing faraway objects or signs. They can be handheld like a pair of regular binoculars or mounted on a pair of eyeglasses.

Video magnifiers are electronic devices that use a camera and television screen to enlarge printed material, pictures or small objects. They are adjustable and can enhance the material in different ways. For example, a video magnifier can make the print appear darker (increased contrast). The technology is developing rapidly, and electronic devices are becoming smaller, more portable and easier to use. Some can even be used for both distance and near tasks.

Other aids include:

  • Electronic books, e-book readers and audio books;
  • Large-print books, newspapers, magazines, playing cards and checks;
  • High-contrast and large-number telephones, thermostats, watches and remote controls;
  • Talking watches, timers, books, and blood pressure and blood sugar machines;
  • Computers that read aloud what is viewed on screen.

Continue Learning about Visual Impairments

Visual Impairments

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.