Magnifiers come in many different shapes and sizes. They can make reading mail, paying bills, or enjoying hobbies easier for people with low vision.
This page will tell you about optical magnifiers. You may also be interested in learning about electronic magnifiers.
Optical magnifiers are reading aids made of glass or acrylic. This includes the traditional handheld magnifying glass, as well as stand magnifiers, sheet magnifiers, and reading glasses. Each type has a fixed level of magnification and focal distance. Check with your eye care professional or specialty catalog for more information.
What kinds of magnifiers are there?
Handheld magnifiers are lenses typically with a handle and can come in rectangular or round shape. The higher the magnification needed the lens will be round and will decrease in size. Handheld magnifiers require you to hold the magnifier at a precise distance from what you are reading. The higher the magnification needed, the closer you will have to hold the magnifier above the material. The distance from your face also will vary if you are wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Stand magnifiers have lenses placed in a stand at the precise focal distance for use with the power of the magnifier. The lens size will decrease as the magnification power needs increase. Stand magnifiers must be placed directly on top of your reading material. Both handheld and stand magnifiers may include lights. Multiple magnifiers in a variety of power levels may be needed to assist with reading print of various sizes. The smaller the print the stronger the magnifier needed.
Sheet or page magnifiers are flat and are limited in magnification to approximately 100-125% enlargement.
Reading glasses purchased in drug stores or convenience stores typically range in magnification levels of 25% to 100% magnification level represented by notation on the labels as +1.0 to +4.0. Reading glasses which require higher magnification must be prescribed by an eye care professional. Reading glasses require you to hold what you are reading at a precise distance from your face for best clarity. The higher the magnification needed, the closer you will need to hold the reading material to avoid blurring or distortion.