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Low Vision Optical AidsThere is a wide variety of devices that can help people with low vision see better, with several 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.
Optical aids are specific tools for specific uses. Some are good 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. Low vision aids do not replace vision that has already deteriorated or been lost, but they can 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 more. 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.
Working with a low vision doctor is the best way to identify what type and magnification of magnifier you need for your own needs. They have training and experience to identify the most optimal types of magnification and correct usage as well, an oft-overlooked aspect of magnifiers.
Once someone has the correct magnifier, practice is essential. Learning to use a magnifier takes practice. We can help you practice at the Low Vision Learning Center once you have seen a low vision doctor. It can be a bit of a struggle to adjust to using a magnifier at first, but it is worth the effort. Being comfortable and skilled in using a magnifier can greatly improve its effectiveness.