photo of using magnifying lens
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Magnifying Devices

Low vision makes it harder to read tiny print on menus, mail, or clothing labels and tags. Use a magnifying device to enlarge the print, so it’s easier to read. These devices come in different weights and sizes, and some have stands or lights attached.

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photo of boy using video magnifier,
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Video Magnifiers

Video devices that are mounted, worn over your eyes, or held by hand can magnify images at different distances. For easier viewing, these electronic devices can:

  • Make images brighter
  • Sharpen contrast
  • Clarify the background and foreground.
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Text-to-Speech Devices

Low vision can make you feel less independent, especially in a world where you need to use smartphones or computers for so many tasks. Text-to-speech devices read copy on screens out loud, so you don’t have to use your eyes. You can also use voice commands with some devices if you find it hard to type.

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Smart Clocks and Watches

If you can’t read your smartwatch or clock, you may feel less independent. Clocks with high-contrast screens can help. So can watches and clocks with bolder, bigger numbers and letters. Talking watches can give you step-by-step walking directions when you’re out.

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Supplemental Lighting

Low vision means you may need three times as much light to read or see household objects. You can position a flexible-arm lamps to beam extra light right where you need it. Twist the neck so light shines on the text you want to see, not into your eyes.

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Buy Better Bulbs

Not all light bulbs are the same. Halogen, incandescent, or LED bulbs all emit different types and brightness levels of light. Find the style that works for your vision needs. Ultraviolet (UV) and blue light-emitting bulbs could worsen vision if you have macular degeneration. Bulbs with less than 5,000 Kelvin ratings don’t emit blue or UV light.

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photo of woman using e-reader in hammock
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Large Print and Easier Fonts

You’ll find large-print books, puzzles, or magazines at your local library or bookstores. E-reader devices or apps also let you make print bigger, widen space between lines, or change fonts. Sans-serif fonts have block letters without extra strokes at the ends of lines so they’re typically easier to read.

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Mobility Aids

You can walk easier with an electronic mobility aid. These devices send out ultrasound waves that bounce off obstacles almost 10 feet away, then alert you with a sound. To be even safer, use a smart cane with a built-in ultrasonic sensor. It will let you know if there are any objects at ground level or higher.

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Telescopic Eyeglasses

Bioptic telescopes are mounted on eyeglass lenses just above your pupils. Tilt your head up and down to bring objects into the magnified or regular view. They may look a little funny, but they work. Some states even allow you to use these high-powered eyeglasses while you drive, if you’re trained and can properly pass a driving test using the device.

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Sewing Aids

Do you love to sew, but can’t see well enough to thread the needle? Use a needle threader device called a hexe or witch. These devices hold the needle upright and steady, then push thread through the eye. You can also buy pre-threaded needles at your local sewing supply store.

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Mobile Apps

Phone apps can help you manage your tasks. New mobile apps can do things like scan currency and tell you the denomination or snap photos of objects to tell you what they are. They can even let you play video games that use sounds more than visual images.

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Health Monitors

Don’t let your low vision keep you from your important health checks. There are blood glucose monitors, blood pressure cuff devices, and weight scales that speak your results aloud, so you don’t have to read little screens.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/31/2021 Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on August 31, 2021

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

  1. wolv / Getty Images
  2. Amélie Benoist Khakurel / Science Source
  3. Poule / Wikimedia Commons
  4. Westend61 / Getty Images
  5. Westend61 / Getty Images
  6. JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images
  7. praetorianphoto / Getty Images
  8. Zoetnet / Wikimedia Commons
  9. Low Vision Rehabilitation
  10. alicat / Getty Images
  11. FG Trade / Getty Images
  12. miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images

SOURCES:

American Optometric Association: “Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation.”

U.S. Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled: “Devices and Aids.”

Kennedy Krieger Institute: “Assistive Technology Clinic.”

The Chicago Lighthouse: “How Does Technology Help People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired?”

Cleveland Clinic: “Low Vision.”

Vision Aware: “Helpful Non-Optical Devices for Low Vision,” “Using Large Print,” “Using a Self-Threading Needle,” “Using a Hexe or ‘Witch’ Needle Threader.”

American Macular Degeneration Foundation: “Ultra-Violet and Blue Light Aggravate Macular Degeneration.”

Vision Australia: “E-Book Readers.”

University of Illinois Library: “Blind/Visual Impairment: Common Assistive Technologies.”

Journal of Biomedical Optics: “In-The-Spectacle Lens Teleoptic Device.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Low Vision Assistive Devices.”

USC Roski Eye Institute: “Top 10 Apps for Visually Impaired People.”

Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on August 31, 2021

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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