Magnifiers

Magnifiers allow you to enlarge text or other objects that are difficult to see.

The pages in this section provide more detailed information on specific magnifiers, globes and batteries sold by Vision Australia.

Most magnifiers can be purchased in our online shop.

nonilluminatedstandmagnifier
Non illuminated stand magnifier on a magazine

Near magnification

Magnifiers enlarge the size of images such as print or pictures. Magnifiers are commonly used by people with central vision loss to assist with near tasks.

Looking though a 3.5x LED illuminated hand magnifier

Choosing a magnifier

The magnifier prescribed for an individual depends on:

  • their level of vision,
  • the reading material they wish to access, such as recreational reading, spot reading a medication label, accessing documents for work or text books for school,
  • the environment in which they are reading
  • cognitive or physical limitations.

Most magnifiers for near or close up tasks are much stronger than reading glasses and they come in a variety of types and strengths.

Strength of magnifiers

Magnifiers come in different strengths or powers denoted by the number of times it increases the size of an image. Magnification strengths can range from 1x and move in varying increments to 15x or 20x.

As the magnification increases:

  • The amount that can be seen through the lens (field of view) decreases. For example, several words can be seen through a 2x magnifier, whereas only two words can be seen through a 15x magnifier.
  • The closer the magnifier and the eye need to be to the page to stay in focus.
  • Distortion around the edges of the magnifier increases because the plastic is thicker. The closer the eye is to the magnifier, the larger the area of print seen and the less distortion is apparent.

Types of magnifiers

It is important for people to trial different types of magnifiers to work out which ones suit their needs. Many people have a range of different magnifiers for different reading/writing situations and other near tasks such as hand sewing.

Types of magnifiers include:

  • Hand magnifiers: these are held in the hand and the user adjusts the height of the magnifier from the page until the print is in focus.
  • Stand magnifiers: sit on the page and don’t need to be focussed
  • Illuminated magnifiers: have in-built light sources and are available in both hand and stand magnifiers.

If stronger magnification is required, hand magnifiers can become difficult to use. Illuminated stand magnifiers tend to perform better at higher magnification levels.

From about 10x magnification, only a couple of words can be seen at a time when reading, therefore an electronic video magnifier connected to a larger screen may be more appropriate.

At a Vision Australia low vision clinic, clients can trial all the different types of magnifiers available and learn how to use the right one effectively.

Hand magnifier

Hand magnifiers are held in the hand and the user adjusts the height of the magnifier from the page until the print material is in focus.

Hand magnifiers are either illuminated (with inbuilt light source) or non-illuminated (without inbuilt light source).

Advantages

  • portable
  • easy to use
  • have flexible working distances
  • familiar
  • inexpensive

Disadvantages

  • require use of one hand
  • require good hand control
  • are generally only useful in lower magnifications.

Using a hand magnifier

  1. If you have reading glasses, put them on (unless otherwise instructed).
  2. If you have an illuminated hand magnifier switch on the light by sliding the grey or blue on/off switch towards the lens.
  3. Hold the magnifier by the handle and place it flat onto the page. You will notice that the print is not magnified.
  4. Slowly raise the magnifier off the page but be careful not to tilt it.
  5. Gradually the print will become larger. Keep moving the magnifier towards you until the print blurs and then slowly move it back to the position where the print looks the clearest.
  6. While maintaining this correct distance, move the magnifier across the page to read. Refer to the image below.
Woman reading with a hand magnifier
  1. Good natural light or a lamp can be used with your hand magnifier. The lamp should be positioned close to the magnifier so that the light shines underneath the magnifying lens and onto the task. Refer to the image below.
Woman reading with a hand magnifier and light

Non-illuminated stand magnifiers

Stand magnifiers rest on the page and do not need to be focused.
Stand magnifiers are either non-illuminated (without inbuilt light source) or illuminated (with inbuilt light source). This page describes non illuminated stand magnifiers.

Non illuminated stand magnifier on a magazine

Advantages

  • available in higher magnification
  • do not require good hand control as they rest on the page
  • object is always in focus (so long as magnifier is sitting on the page)

Disadvantages

  • fixed posture required (you may need to bring the page closer to your face to avoid hunching over the page)
  • difficult to get close enough for good viewing
  • need hard, flat and stable surface
  • difficult to use for extended reading

Instructions for use

  1. If you have reading glasses, put them on (unless otherwise instructed).
  2. Place the magnifier flat on the page. The print will be in focus, but if you raise the magnifier off the page the print will blur.
  3. Use natural light or a reading lamp. Position the lamp close to the magnifier (between your eye level and the magnifier) so that the light shines underneath the magnifying lens onto the page.

The image below shows how to position your lamp when using the stand magnifer.

using a non illuminated stand magnifier with a lamp

Position the lamp close to the magnifier.

  1. If using a strong magnifier, bring the magnifier and the page close to your eyes. Alternatively, if you are resting the page on a table, move your face closer to the magnifier. The closer your eyes are to the magnifier, the more words you will be able to see.
  2. To read, slide the magnifier across the page keeping the magnifier flat on the page and to read the page.

Stand Magnifiers - Illuminated - description and use

Stand magnifiers rest on the page and do not need to be focused.
Stand magnifiers are either non-illuminated (without inbuilt light source) or illuminated (with inbuilt light source). This page describes illuminated stand magnifiers.

Illuminated stand magnifiers can be powered by batteries or electricity. Magnifiers may have standard globes, halogen globes or LED (light-emitting diodes) globes. LED globes last a very long time, so do not require replacing, often for the life of the magnifier. They also use less battery power than the other globes.

The image below shows the enlargement of text through an illuminated stand magnifier

View through the 3x rectangular illuminated stand magnifier

Advantages

  • available in higher magnification than other magnifiers
  • do not require good hand control as they rest on the page
  • object is always in focus (so long as magnifier is sitting on the page)

Disadvantages

  • fixed posture required (you may need to bring the page closer to your face to avoid hunching over the page)
  • difficult to get close enough for good viewing
  • need hard, flat and stable surface
  • difficult to use for extended reading

Using an Illuminated Stand Magnifier

  1. If you use reading glasses, put them on (unless otherwise instructed).
  2. Hold the magnifier handle and place the hollow section of the magnifying head flat on the page (like an upside down cup). The magnifier is only in focus for one distance. If you lift the magnifier off the page, the print will blur.
  3. Your magnifier comes equipped with a light. The switch for this is located on the top of the handle and must be turned on before use.
  4. With the magnifier sitting on the page, bring both the magnifier and the page close to your eyes. Alternatively, if reading at a table, move your face closer to the magnifier. The closer your eyes are to the magnifier the more words you will be able to see.
  5. To read, slide the magnifier across the page keeping the magnifier flat on the page and to read the page.
  6. Switch the light off when finished.

The image below shows an illuminated stand magnifier being used with a clipboard.

View of the 3x rectangular illuminated stand magnifier

Visulette and strip magnifiers

A visulette looks like a glass paper weight and is very simple to use.

Visulette on a page

A strip magnifier is like a stretched out visulette and is useful for moving down a page to systematically read test.

Strip magnifier on a page

Visulettes and strip magnifiers have a set focal distance and sit on the page. These magnifiers are only available in low magnification.

Using a visulette or strip magnifier

  1. If you have reading glasses, put them on (unless otherwise instructed).
  2. Stand the magnifier flat on the page. The print will be in focus, but if you raise the magnifier off the page the print will blur.
  3. Use natural light or a reading lamp. Position the lamp close to the magnifier so that the light shines through the magnifying lens onto the page without causing a reflection off the surface of the magnifier.
  4. Keep the magnifier flat on the page and slide it across the page to read.