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Low Vision Optical AidsThere is a wide variety of devices that can help people with low vision see better. There are hundreds of different kinds of magnifiers in many different strengths. Some are used to see things that are near, like a newspaper, and others are used for seeing distant objects, like street signs.
It is helpful to think of low vision optical aids as specific tools for specific uses. One device may be used for reading mail, another for watching movies, and yet another for seeing menus at a restaurant. These are not intended as all-purpose aids. Instead, they make it easier to use one's existing vision for specific tasks, like knitting or watching a football game. Unfortunately, low vision aids do not replace vision that has already deteriorated or been lost, but they will maximize one's remaining vision and help one to enjoy favorite activities and hobbies.
It is critical that someone with low vision gets the correct magnifier at the correct strength. There are hand magnifiers, stand magnifiers, pocket magnifiers, and they come in all sorts of shapes. There are magnifiers that look like mini-telescopes and some that look like glasses. Some can be worn around the neck and some come attached to a desk lamp. Some have built in lights. And of course, they come in many different strengths.
Once someone has the correct magnifier for a specific task, practice is essential. Learning to use a magnifier to read, attend plays, buy groceries, or engage in any other activity takes practice. It can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to adjust to using a magnifier, but it is worth the effort. Being comfortable and skilled in using a magnifier can greatly improve its effectiveness (and one's ability to use a magnifier successfully.)
When using a hand magnifier, it is important to hold it straight. The eye, the magnifier, and the material at which one is looking should all be in one straight line. Tilting the magnifier will distort what one is trying to see. It is sometimes easier to keep the magnifier straight if one places the material being read on a clipboard or stand.
When using a stand magnifier, one must keep the magnifier on the paper rather than lifting it to the eyes.
The Low Vision Center has many magnifiers available so that clients can try them in our home-like environment to determine their effectiveness and ease of use. The LVC also sells Bausch & Lomb, Coil, and Eschenbach magnifiers as a convenience to our clients.
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