There are a variety of magnifiers that can assist partially sighted people to focus on text or other objects.
Many households have magnifiers to find a small splinter stuck in the skin, or reading smaller than expected printed labels which might assist people with some useful sight to read print at arm’s length or nearer. Small pocket magnifiers often have foldable lens protector cases that double as a handle and can be as small as a thumb, or larger to fit in a trouser pocket. Magnification can be in ranges of up to X3, X5 X10 X15 and in very rare cases X20. These magnifiers are very portable. However the lens diameter is small, which reduces the area that is magnified. If you need to magnify text or objects by more than five times, the posture and technique of holding the magnifier and viewing the target object is best demonstrated by a low vision professional, such as an optician or rehabilitation worker for the Visually Impaired.
There are a wide range of magnifier options available from specialist shops such as the RNIB shop. Here are some examples of the available options:
- Head mounted into spectacle frames, as double layered lenses or mini telescopes. Ideal for viewing a screen while operating a console, or reading music while playing an instrument.
- Magnifying frame that can free stand over the target object, ideal for crafts such as covering a knitting pattern or sewing machine mechanism and controls.
- Magnifiers mounted onto flexible or fixed arms or plinths. This gives consistency of focus and visual orientation, especially when multitasking. They could be useful in a fixed work station or kitchen with hand eye coordination tasks such as chopping, reading, measuring or poring liquids. However they are not so portable.
- Illuminated magnifiers Tto improve the contrast of the target object.
- A monocular could be described as a mini telescope. They can be focused on objects in some cases as close as 1 metre and beyond as far as needed. Magnification strength tends to be fixed in the range of x6, x8 x10 or x12 times larger. For partially sighted people they can be useful for reading print at medium distance or getting additional visual information from the environment.
- Partially sighted people with useable sight in both eyes benefit from using compact binoculars although they are slightly larger and heavier than monoculars. Some binoculars are so powerful at magnification they require tripod mounting for image stability. These are not practical for instant use in a changing environment. However if you want a better view of the moon and stars, a tripod binocular rig can be easier to set up and use by keen would be astronomers, than a high-tech telescope.
- Video magnifiers. These display the magnified text on to a screen although they are on the expensive side.
Using your smartphone
Magnifying apps use the phone or tablet camera lens to provide significantly larger onscreen images of the environment. The standard camera app allows some basic image zooming. A good magnifying app will give you more magnification, colour inverting and customisable features, such as the ability to freeze the image on screen where you can review the image at various sizes, or in comfort away from the object location.
New smart phones and tablets have inbuilt magnifier capabilities which can be found in the accessibility section of the settings.
Here are some alternative apps you can download and test from your App or Play store (or search “magnifiers” for more options):
- Claro MagX
- SuperVision+ Magnifier
- Magnifying Glass with light