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Low Vision Aids

On this page, you will find the following:

Using Optical Devices

For those with low vision, many magnifying glasses and devices are available to assist with reading and other close work such as sewing. These devices range from the simple and inexpensive, such as hand-held or freestanding magnifiers, to more expensive high-tech products, such as computer screen reading software and special magnifying screen monitors for use with computers or TVs.

Hand-held magnifying glass can help with reading medicine bottle labels, mail, price tags in stores, and restaurant menus. Carrying a magnifying glass at all times, both in the home and in public places, can increase a person's self-sufficiency. Initially, some visually impaired people may feel self-conscious about using a magnifier in public. But before ruling out this option, consider the independence simple magnifiers can provide. Ask yourself, “Would I rather be able to go shopping or eat out whenever I want to, or wait until I have someone to go with me and help me?”

Many styles of magnifiers, including discreet ones, can be found at drug stores, medical supply stores or may be ordered online or by phone through low vision product catalogs. Magnifiers that also provide illumination usually work best for those with macular degeneration who need extra light as well as magnification.

Inexpensive, freestanding magnifying glasses can be kept in different places throughout the home, especially near where close work is done, such as reading, writing or needlework. Magnifiers can also help with daily grooming.

A freestanding magnifying screen can be placed in front of the TV enlarge the images. Other magnifiers come in the form of eyeglasses or clip onto glasses to free your hands for other activities.

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Further Information

Many organizations offer products to assist the visually impaired.

The following BrightFocus publications provide more information:

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Last Review: 08/23/13


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