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Magnifiers for the Visually Impaired

ILA offers a wide range of magnifiers for the low vision individual, ranging in power from 1.5X to 14X.  Magnifiers can help a visually impaired person with daily tasks such as checking prices at the grocery store or reading a bill at home. 

Independent Living Aids features high end European brands such as Coil and Schweizer, as well as value priced magnifiers for everyday use.  These magnifiers can come in different form factors including hand or pocket magnifiers which can easily tuck into a purse or tote bag, or stand magnifiers which rest directly on the reading material and set the proper focal distance between the eye and the reading material. Focal distance, or focal length, is the distance between the magnifier and the object to achieve proper focusing.  If the magnifier is not held at the proper focal distance, the object may appear upside down.  Higher power power magnifiers, such as 10X+, will have a really short focual distance of barely 1", meaning that the magnifier can only be 1" away from the object and they will have to be quite close to the magnifying lens. 

There are 2 terms to characterize magnification strength - "X", or "times" and diopters.  The table below lists the conversion between Power and Diopter.  It also lists the approximate focal length associated with each power.  

European Power     Diopter          Focal Length

            2.0X                             4D                   9.8"

            3.0X                             8D                   4.8"

            5.0X                             16D                 2.5"

            6.0X                             20D                 2.0"

            7.0X                             24D                 1.6"

            10.0X                          36D                 1.1"

            11.0X                          40D                 1.0"

The size of the viewing area of a magnifier is completely dependent on the strength of the magnifier, and the higher the power of the magnifier, the smaller is the viewing area.  This is why a rectangular magnifier is never going to be much stronger than 3.5X and why a 10X magnifier will always be round and have a viewing diameter of only 1.2".  

Magnifiers with LED illumination can help make viewing easier, without having to sacrifice any size.