How to choose an optical magnifier

Optical Magnifiers


– Very lightweight

– Portable – in handbag or pocket

– Simple technology

– Familiar to older people

– Reasonably cheap


Optical Magnifier

Optical Magnifier



– Not very strong magnification; 3x – 12x

– Field of view decreases as  magnification increases, meaning fewer words can be seen at higher magnification

– At higher magnification the magnifier and object need to be held close to the face. Not easy for some people.

– Curving and distortion at edges

– Poor contrast

– High glare

Optical magnifier being used to read a book

Optical magnifier and book




Electronic Magnifiers – Hand Held


– Variable magnification levels

– Increased field of view

– No distortion

– Range of display options to reduce glare or increase contrast

Hand held electonic magnifier showing negative high contrast

Electronic Magnifiers – Hand Held





– More expensive


However, the most important thing you need to do is try them out. Everybody is unique and what suits your friend or neighbour will not necessarily suit you. Here is a simulation of reading a newspaper using an optical magnifier and an electronic magnifier.


Example of newspaper text at original size

Newspaper and headline text original size



Newspaper text viewed with a 3x optical magnifier

Newspaper text viewed with a 3x optical magnifier



Newspaper text viewed with a 3X electronic magnifier in reverse contrast

Newspaper text viewed at 3x with an electronic magnifier