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Low Vision Tip: Portable Electronic Magnifiers

For patients with visual impairments, a common problem is small print access.

This is related to two specific deficits in vision:

  1. Decreased Resolution — unable to see small detail,
  2. Decreased Contrast Sensitivity — cannot see low contrast/grey detail.

Optical magnifiers make print look bigger, and current technology has added new options. Portable electronic magnifiers are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

They offer a significantly larger field of view at a given level of magnification—it is nice to have several words displayed on the screen and not have to read one word at a time.

They also do an excellent job of enhancing contrast. A poor contrast grey-on-grey print in the newspaper can be displayed in brilliant high-contrast black and white.

Prices for this technology have also dropped. Pictured above is one such device—the Eschenbach “Smart Lux” ($595). If you have reduced vision and have trouble reading, look up your local low vision rehabilitation specialist and try out one of these new devices.


Article by Donald C. Fletcher, MD, Director of the Frank Stein and Paul S. May Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation at California Pacific Medical Center and Affiliate Scientist, Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco.

Last reviewed on October 29, 2017

This article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Gleams.


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