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Handheld magnifiers are what most people think of as the primary tools of low vision. They cost little and are portable. However, most hand held magnifiers are difficult to hold for long periods and since they must be held at an exact focal distance the print material may go in and out of focus, thus creating eye strain. They should primarily be used for spotting tasks. Some come with built in lighting such as the second example. The bar magnifier is great for reading since it creates a natural line to follow the print and is technically a stand magnifier since it does not need to be held when used. The electronic magnifier on the far right is very handy since it may have several magnifications, may have increased contrast settings, and is very steady.
Stand magnifiers are great for reading for long periods since they do not need to be supported. The first one is an unlighted example that has legs that keep it at an exact focal distance. The second example is lighted which aids in reading since most people who need these devices require increased contrast. The last two examples are dome magnifiers. These are very handy since they let a lot of ambient light in from the sides and can have very high magnifications.
A truly impressive way to increase the size of printed material is with a closed circuit TV (CCTV) or a computer with a camera. This allows any magnification, larger scanned areas, contrast may be changed to the easier white on black, and is a very stable platform. Handheld devices such as the one on the far right are less expensive alternatives but generally only magnify a much smaller area.
In addition to magnifiers, those with low vision need help with every day tasks such as telling time, calculating, playing games, and answering the phone. Many such devices are available for almost any task you can think of.
Telescopic devices are useful for spotting distant objects. Some may be exclusive telescopes--you put them on and all you can see is whatever is in the oculars, similar to a pair of binoculars. The second example shows telescopic devices mounted to the lenses of a pair of glasses. This allows the user to see out of the telescopes and through the glasses (depending on where the user is looking). This is useful for moving about since telescopes can reduce a person's field of view considerably. People with low vision do not have "no vision", they still may have good peripheral vision. The last two examples show spotting telescopes. Some people may prefer to wear their regular glasses and use a spotting scope to read aisle signs at the grocery store, spot an angry dog coming at 'em, or watch birds in their leisure.
People with low vision need good contrast and one way to achieve better contrast is with increased lighting. A good floor lamp is essential for those who read on a couch or chair. Various table lamps on arms are very useful. A good book lamp is critical for those who read in bed.
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