Conventional magnifiers have been around for ages and are great tools to help those with mild vision loss to spot read things such as labels, recipes, and phone numbers. While magnifiers may seem like nothing more than simple pieces of curved plastic or glass with a handle attached, there are a few common misconceptions and considerations consumers need to understand before purchasing these devices.
Field of View & Strength: When it comes to conventional magnifiers, do not be fooled by size! While most would think that bigger is better, the opposite is true when it comes to magnifiers.
Just remember: Smaller = Stronger
If you have ever picked up a magnifier that has a smaller magnifier or bubble within it, you will notice that it is the strongest part. That is because it is really, just a strong (small) magnifier embedded within a weaker (larger) magnifier. This also explains why those large page-sized magnifiers are too weak to be helpful and offer very little magnification. If you or your loved one require a lot of magnification and find it frustrating to use magnifiers that are so small that you are only able to read one word or letter at a time, that is a good indicator that it is time to consider switching over to an electronic video magnifier instead.
Focal Distance: All hand held magnifiers need to be held at a very specific distance to magnify what you are trying to view. If you have played around with a magnifier before, then you know that laying it flat against the paper does nothing and holding it too far back distorts the image. So, you must do a careful balancing act, constantly hovering the magnifier above what you are trying to view and keeping it at that distance. If you purchase a stronger magnifier, understand that they have a shorter focal distance. This means that you will need to hold it closer to what you are trying to view. This can lead to awkward posturing, bending or hunching over, to look into the magnifier. To alleviate uncomfortable posturing, try holding the magnifier and object up closer to your eye.
Illumination: If you are considering purchasing a conventional magnifier, be absolutely sure it has a built-in light. When holding a magnifier above anything, you will most likely be casting a shadow from not only the magnifier, but also from your hand and arm, making what you are trying to read darker. By purchasing an illuminated or lighted magnifier, the built-in light will help eliminate shadows and help to improve contrast.
Style & Shape: Some magnifiers are round while others are rectangular.
- Rectangular magnifiers may allow you to see more words but you might end up putting your wrist in an uncomfortable position to keep it horizontal and lined up with text.
- Round magnifiers are more forgiving because no matter how your wrist is angled, the window is always round.
When looking for hand held magnifiers online and in catalogs, you may come across hand held “stand” magnifiers which have big thick handles and big casings around the lens. These magnifiers work by standing or resting flat against what you are reading and placing the lens at the perfect focal distance without having to hover. These are ideal for those who have a hard time understanding where to hold traditional magnifiers or have tremors or arthritis, making it difficult to steady their magnifier and keep it from shaking. Avoid awkward positioning and uncomfortable posturing with stand magnifiers – try propping books and papers up on a reading stand or on top of a cushion to make it easier to look into, so you don’t hunch and hurt your upper back and neck.
Here at Magnified Life, we want to empower our readers to make the best, informed decisions to make sure you and your loved ones have the right tools to stay happy, engaged, and doing the things you love. We hope these helpful hints will lead you in the right direction with your magnifier selection!