Choosing the right electronic magnifier!

No single solution.

When looking at magnification options always keep in mind the range of activities that you struggle with because of Low Vision. Most people will need at least a couple of different devices to cover all their needs. People typically start with the optical magnifier from the discount store or Post Office. Usually having only low magnification, they can be useful for “spot” reading; looking at labels for example. Often they are less useful for extended reading or reading in poor lighting. It’s at this point that people start exploring other options.


Handheld or Desktop?

Across Quantum we get to meet thousands of people with Low Vision each year. Initially most people tell us they think a small handheld device would be better, and they are “not ready” for larger desktop magnifiers. However, for the vast majority of people, especially those with Macular Degeneration a desktop magnifier is always going to be better value. This is due to 2 main reasons.

– A larger screen means more words are magnified; you will be able to read more easily and faster.

– They are much more suitable for the range of day-to-day activities involved in independent living. The thousand little things you need your eyes for each and every day. It’s not just about reading books. Most people with a Desktop magnifier will also have at least one handheld magnifier.

What Size Screen?

There are no hard and fast rules and each person needs to trial different screen sizes to find what works best. However, there are some general principles that can be considered. When a person has central vision loss, such as with Macular Degeneration, a larger screen (22” or 24”) is nearly always beneficial, as they can see more using their peripheral or ‘side’ vision. Conversely people with peripheral vision loss, such as with Glaucoma, are unlikely to benefit from a larger screen, and smaller screens (15” or 19”) will help reduce the amount of head movement as they scan from side to side.

There are also considerations around your living space; how much room do you have, is there a stable table available, do you need to use it in multiple rooms?

How Easy is it to Use?

Today there are so many options available you can choose the level of sophistication that best meets your needs. Some people prefer a single “one-button” approach so there is less to remember and less that can go wrong. Others who may be more comfortable with technology prefer more control over the operation of the device and are happy to use multiple buttons, or touch screens and gestures. The user interface is one of the most important aspects of any Low Vision aid and it is crucial to match the device to the person; there is no “one size fits all”.

All of these options are best considered in consultation with an expert. And make sure you try in your own home before you buy. Give us a call to find out how!