Devices Offering Great Solutions (DOGS)

Magnifiers (Glass and Acrylic)

Devices to make text and pictures bigger.

What does it do?

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 Magnifier

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 Magnifier

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 Magnifier

Sheet or page magnifiers are flat and are limited in magnification to approximately 100-125% enlargement.

Reading Glasses

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.

Round magnifying glass over a newspaper.

How do I see what's new?

Technology changes all the time. To find out about the latest options for these, you can type keywords into a search engine such as Google, Safari, Firefox, or Bing on a computer or tablet. These are the keywords for this type of item:

magnifying glass, strong magnifier

How do I find out more?

If you live in the US outside of Pennsylvania you would need to find your state's AT program.

If you live in Pennsylvania:

  • you could contact TechOWL to work with a specialist. We can meet with you and sometimes demonstrate this equipment. We can also help with different ways to get one for your own.
  • you might borrow this equipment to try out. Do we have this in our lending library?


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Jule Ann Lieberman

Jule Ann Lieberman has earned her Master of Science in Low Vision Therapy, is dual certified by Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals ( as Low Vision Therapist and Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist. Jule Ann began her work in assistive technology instructing blind and low vision adults in the use of assistive technology in 1998. She joined TechOWL, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University (formerly known as Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology) in 2013 as Assistive Technology Specialist and continues to provide information and assistance, consultation, demonstrations, and public awareness training in the use of assistive technology. Jule Ann has presented educational sessions at national and regional assistive technology conferences for many years. She has been legally blind with a progressive vision impairment since age of 16 and enjoys learning new technologies and how it meets the needs of those with vision loss and blindness.

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