Frequently Asked Questions
Using our Magnification Finder, found in the top bar, you will be given an estimate as to the level of magnification you require. As magnification levels can be subjective this will provide you with a good guide as to what would be most appropriate for you. It will also recommend some magnifiers that might be suitable for you.
A person who is registered blind or partially sighted is able to purchase their low vision aids without VAT being added. Whether you are eligible for VAT exemption will be determined by the regulations from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
HMRC states that “Customers with a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect upon their ability to carry out everyday activities” will be eligible for zero-rated VAT
i. providing that the goods are for their personal or domestic use and
ii. the goods and services are eligible to be supplied at the zero rate. Low vision aids are included in the outline given under:
a. spectacle mounted low vision aids which are custom made to the prescription of a qualified optician where the prescription identifies the appliance as a low vision aid; and
b. other low vision aids including technical aids for reading and writing, which are designed exclusively for visually impaired people, for example, closed circuit video magnification equipment capable of magnifying text and images.
The registration process would have been completed by your Consultant Ophthalmologist at your hospital.
To purchase items at zero-rate VAT from Vision Enhancers two steps need to be taken:
1. A VAT Relief form needs to be completed, signed and returned to us by post or email. We need to keep this on file to confirm your eligibility for HM Revenue and Customs.
2. An account needs to be set up on our system. You can create an account by clicking "My Account" at the top of this page and then "Create an Account" normal. If you need help with this you can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll create one for you. Once the VAT Relief form has been received we will be able to set your account up for VAT exemption. You will then be able to place orders online without the VAT being included.
If you are in any doubt as to whether you are eligible to receive goods or services zero-rated for VAT you should consult Notice 701/7 VAT reliefs for disabled people available from HMRC or contact their National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000 before signing the declaration.
Low vision is described as a loss of vision that cannot be corrected with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. A person with low vision can find it hard to see things clearly making it difficult to carry out everyday tasks.
Low vision most commonly happens as a result of the eye changing with age. People can also develop low vision because of eye diseases and health conditions such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy.
Low vision is usually first noticed as a reduction in the sharpness of definition, with difficulty coping when lighting is poor.
Devices, either optical (magnifiers) or non-optical (lighting and electronic systems) that can be used to improve the quality of vision.
There are low vision aids which can help you to do lots of useful things close-up, like reading or seeing control buttons on a cooker. There are also other low vision aids which can also be useful for seeing things which are far away, like road signs or looking at a view.
An optometrist or low vision specialist can evaluate the degree and type of vision loss you have, and advise on the appropriate low vision aids such as magnifiers, telescopes and video magnifiers, which will help your vision. Some vision aids will be available from your local low vision service so that you can try them at home. The types of aid available will depend on the product range held by the particular clinic. Vision Enhancers is able to provide a full collection of optical vision aid products together with guidance to help you in choosing and using devices to meet your specific vision aid needs.
When considering a Vision Aid or Magnifier there are a number of things to think about:
What tasks you want to perform; whether you want to see things near to you or in the distance; how long you want to be able to view for; whether the task needs both hands to be carried out and also whether hands are shaky or weak.
Magnification is the process of enlarging an object in visual size, normally through an optical lens. It is the ratio between the apparent size and the true size of the viewed object behind the lens. If an object behind the lens appears ten times larger than its true size, and the object is in focus (i.e. at the proper focal length), the magnification is 10x.
Magnification is the ratio between the apparent size of an object viewed through an optical lens and the true size of the object behind the lens. Dioptre refers to the optical power (or strength) of the magnifying lens. It is the strength of the magnifying lens measured at one metre. Four dioptres (4.0D) represent a 1x power magnification. A 20 dioptre (20.0D) measurement is approximately equal to 5x power magnification. A rough formula to convert from magnification power to dioptres is to multiply the magnification power by four. Some manufacturers of magnifying equipment include an element for the focal distance in their calculation so multiply the magnifying power by 4+1 to allow for this in calculating the Dioptre value.
Age-related Macular Degeneration is an eye disease that results in a loss of central vision leaving only side or peripheral vision intact. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in older people. Macular degeneration affecting younger people is called “macular dystrophy” and can run in families.
There are two types of AMD, dry and wet and both can lead to severe vision loss. AMD affects the macula, the small central part of the retina responsible for central and detailed vision. It is not painful but cells in the macula break down causing this loss of central vision.
An eye disease, related to high pressure inside the eye that damages the optic nerve and leads to vision loss. Glaucoma affects peripheral, or side, vision. The optic nerve carries information from the retina, the light sensitive layer in the eye, to the brain which it sees as a picture. Progressive damage to the optic nerve from a build-up of pressure inside the eye due to ineffective or blocked drainage channels can be detected through eye examinations and special tests.
Diabetes is a chronic disease related to high blood sugar that may lead to vision loss as well as other systemic effects. Diabetic Retinopathy can be one of the complications of advanced or long-term diabetes. It affects the network of blood vessels lying within the retina which can leak and damage the entire retina including the macula. The vessels may leak blood and fluid in the early stages and can result in blocked vessels in later stages which means new weaker blood vessels will grow in the eye. These new vessels can grow in the wrong place and can leak and cause scarring which can pull and distort the retina and can lead to retinal detachment. Most sight loss due to diabetes can be prevented but early diagnosis is vital which is why Diabetes patients should have an annual eye examination.
A Cataract is a clouding of the lens that reduces the clarity of the vision so that people see through a haze and there may be an increase in sensitivity to glare so that halo’s appear around bright lights. There may also be a loss of contrast and trouble distinguishing colours as the lens becomes more yellow with age e.g. it may be difficult to tell the difference between similar colours such as navy, blue and black. In advanced stages it can be harder to read as the printed letters can appear faded and not as distinct. In a usually safe and successful short operation, the cloudy lens can be replaced with a plastic lens to remove the symptoms. Cataract surgery has a high success rate in normal eyes.
Filters absorb the short wave, high-energy ultraviolet and blue elements of the light so enhancing contrast and reducing photosensitivity. Filter colours differ depending on the absorption range, which is how much ultraviolet light is filtered out. The higher the number the more UV light is absorbed by the filter and the less light is transmitted through to the eye.
A polarising filter allows light to enter the lens of the eye in a specific direction whilst absorbing other light. Its effect is to remove reflections from a shiny surface.
An aspheric lens has a varying radius of curvature across the surface of the lens compared to a spherical lens so it gradually changes in curvature from the centre of the lens to the edge. These lenses are used to give a thinner lens and less distortions in the periphery of the lens. Therefore, the magnifiers can be made stronger for the same size and thickness as a spherical lens.
Biconvex lenses have a positive curved surface on both sides of the lens. This allows higher degrees of power and hence magnification than a plano/convex lens, which only has one curved surface such as those used in bar and dome magnifiers.
Prismatic lenses describe a lens that shifts light. Prismatic lenses are used in glasses, not to change the focus of light rays, but to change their direction and help with spherical aberrations. The prism in glasses is used to bend light so that as the eyes look through them, the objects are pulled into focus. It is similar to a triangle or cone. The focus occurs because the bottom of the prism is on the outside of the glasses. It pulls the object in and narrows its focus as it makes its way up the prism. The object visualised is pulled together in both lenses to a closer point, creating a clearer picture. This makes the vision clear, without forcing the eyes to work as one.
The first number in the notation refers to the optical magnification and the second to the size of the aperture or opening of the telescope or binoculars. As an example a 4x 12 telescope would provide a 4x magnification with an aperture or opening of 12mm.
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