What are low vision aids?

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.



If you have found a problem with everyday tasks such as reading a price tag, viewing the TV schedule, seeing the controls on the cooker or watching TV, then using a magnifier can help in making the print or object large enough to see.


Magnifiers have different strengths and designs so they can be used for different things. They vary based on their power, lens type and design purpose.


Magnifying Power

On the whole, the larger the size of the magnifier, the weaker it will be. More powerful magnifiers are smaller and have to be held close to your eye and what you want to look at. With stronger magnifiers, which are smaller, you might not be able to see as much at once, you may be able to read parts of words rather than whole words or sentences.


Whilst a magnifier’s power can be measured in a number of ways, the most common method is the “times magnification”. Given as a number e.g.” 3x” it describes how many times larger an object will appear when viewed through the magnifier than with the normal eye. So a magnifier with a 3x magnification will make objects appear 3 times larger than without the magnifier.

Magnifiers can be optical or video based.


Optical magnifiers include:

  • Hand-held magnifiers
  • Dome or bar magnifiers
  • Stand magnifiers
  • Magnifying spectacles and spectacle mounted magnifiers
  • Electronic Magnifiers
  • Telescopes and Binoculars
  • Lighting/Coloured Filters


Generally available in power ranges from 1x to 20x.


Video magnifiers can be hand-held or plug into a TV or computer monitor. They operate as a Closed Circuit Television using a camera to feed the picture to the display device. They can provide from 2x to 60x magnification.


Where do I get low vision aids?

An optometrist or low vision specialist can assess 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. 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. 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.