From the tried-and-true to the latest developing technology, here are some of the best magnifying and sight-enhancing devices to make the most of low vision.
An estimated 5.5 million seniors in the U.S. are blind or visuallyimpaired, and more than 13 million Americans are affected by macular degeneration, according to the National Federation for the Blind.
A gradual loss of eyesight can prevent older adults from doing beloved hobbies such as woodworking and sewing. Reading may become next to impossible, and everyday chores, such as using a phone or computer, are more and more difficult. Low vision can prevent a senior from aging at home, and severely limit the activities they’re able to do no matter where they live.
Thankfully, many seniors have been able to return to these activities by using adaptive aids, from the very simple to the latest technological marvel. Here, we take a look at some of the best-rated magnifying devices, as well as the latest technology. Oftentimes, a new user’s most emphatic comment is “Why didn’t I get this sooner?”
Devices are listed from the simplest and least costly to the most complex. Prices are approximate and the least expensive we could find online at the time of writing.
Light Bulbs for Low Vision
It seems like such a simple thing, choosing a light bulb. You find the right size, compare prices, and make a decision. You get LED bulbs because they’re by far the best deal over time, and you won’t have to balance on a chair to change the can lights in the ceiling. Other than that, what’s the big deal?
A lot, especially if you have macular degeneration. When you’re picking an LED bulb, it’s important to get the type that is labeled “daylight.” The light it throws off makes colors crisper, enhances contrast and reduces glare. LED bulbs give off a lot of light without producing much dangerous heat.
Additionally, get the bulb with the most available lumens, which is a measure of visible light. Most standard-size LED light bulbs are available with 900 or more lumens to make your home brighter. Experts recommend about 5,000 lumens of light in a 250-square-foot room, but more is better when you have low vision. To really pump up the light, try a bulb like these that throw out 2,680 lumens each. The investment of $42.50 for three is well worth the added safety.
Other types of light you might be curious about include fluorescent, which provides the brightest light. Unfortunately, it also produces a lot of glare. Halogen bulbs reduce the glare, but they heat up more than others. You can only use halogen bulbs in halogen lamps, including halogen torchieres, which cast light upwards and provide nice brightness to living rooms and bedrooms.
Full-spectrum lighting sounds appealing, but some eye specialists caution against it. While it mimics sunlight and enhances color and contrast, it contains blue light, which is known to damage the retina.
- For under $10, a handheld magnifying glass with three LED lights can be indispensable for reading small print such as on prescription bottles, seeing the time on a digital clock, hitting the right buttons on the microwave or any number of daily tasks. This one from MagniPros is especially nice with magnification that varies from three times to 4.5 times in the main acrylic lens, and a smaller lens for 25 times enlargement. About $9.
- If you’re looking for a desktop magnifier to help you read, try the Satechi ReadMate It combines five times magnification with three LED lights, and moves easily across a flat surface. It’s available in five colors to either blend in with your décor or stand out so you can find it quickly. Reviewers say it’s well-built and works well for viewing photos, too. About $25.
- Oftentimes, those with low vision need a combination of more light and magnification for tasks at hand. A visor such as this one by Carson leaves your hands free to tie flies, quilt or write a letter. The LED lamp offers a range of light intensity, while the comfortable headband adjusts to any size user. About $31.
magnifying floor lamp
not only earns great ratings, but is about half or one-third the price
of similar models. Set it by a favorite reading chair, next to the seat
where you sew or at your hobby table. The 2.25times lens is 5 inches
wide, and a gooseneck can rotate left, right, up or down for easy
viewing. The light switch also controls varying light intensity. About
Tip : For information on how to choose a magnifying lamp, try the informative microscope.com guide .
- The Carson TV Magnifier turns your TV screen into a digital aid. Just place it over your reading material to transfer the full-color image to your TV. It’s easy to connect with a cable. The magnification depends on the size of your screen, but LED illumination ensures that the image on the screen is bright. About $68.
- If you need multiple color modes for greater contrast, try Mustcam’s Handheld Digital Magnifier for reading. Magnification can go all the way up to 9.5 times on a 3.5-inch screen with this battery-powered, cordless device. About $124.
- The Onyx Portable Video Monitor reads any document aloud, and you can read along if you like on a high contrast screen that magnifies up to 131 times. Comfortably switch to voice mode when your eyes tire, or listen to documents being read on the other side of the room. The touch screen makes it easy to operate. About $3,695.
- On the forefront of breaking technology, eSight claims to make glasses that let the legally blind see. While it won’t work for everyone, the unique visor fits over glasses for all-day, hands-free wearability. The unprecedented integration of hardware and software allows users to change from faraway viewing to reading a book almost instantly with a remote-size control unit, and images arrive in real time. A free, half-hour demo is available at locations across the country, or try a $500 15-day trial with support in the comfort of your home. At about $10,000, these glasses aren’t cheap, but for some they are priceless.
“Fact Sheet: Low Vision,” National Federation of the Blind.
“Top Rated Low Vision Aides,” Google.
“Low Vision Lighting,” WebRN-MacularDegeneration.
“How Many Lumens Do I Need?,” 1000Bulbs Lighting Blog.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors