A guide to handheld magnifiers

Handheld magnifiers come in varying strengths. They can’t correct sight loss but they will enhance your vision making it easier for you to read print and see finer details.

Anyone with sight loss should have a low vision assessment before deciding on a magnifier.

They range in strength from 2.5x to 15x magnification. This guide explains how to use your magnifier correctly so that you can be confident you are using the right strength for you.

How to focus

2.5x to 4x magnification

  • These magnifiers need to be held away from the body at arm’s length.
  • If you wear glasses, keep them on.
  • Switch the light on by pressing the button on the handle.
  • Hold the magnifier over the text and bring it slowly towards you until the text becomes clearer (usually about 3 or 4 inches from the text).
  • If you move the magnifier too far away from the text it will start to get blurry again, so keep trying until the text comes into focus.
  • Keep the magnifier parallel to the text and move it from left to right as you read. Don’t tilt or turn the magnifier otherwise you’ll get distortion.

5x to 7x magnification

  • These magnifiers have a shorter working distance so you’ll need to bring both the magnifier and the text closer to your body.
  • If you wear glasses, keep them on.
  • Switch the light on by pressing the button on the handle.
  • Hold the magnifier about 7 or 8 inches away from your face and hold it about an inch above the text.
  • Because of the strength of the magnification, you will only be able to see one word at a time.
  • Keep the magnifier parallel to the text and move it from left to right as you read. Don’t tilt or turn the magnifier otherwise you’ll get distortion.

8x to 15x magnification

  • These magnifiers need to be held directly to your eye.
  • If you wear glasses, take them off.
  • Switch the light on by pressing the button on the handle.
  • Bring the magnifier right up to your eye so that the edge of the lens is touching your eyebrow. You only use one eye to read with these magnifiers.
  • Because of the strength of the magnification, you will only be able to see one word or a few letters at a time.
  • Hold the magnifier still and move the text in front of the magnifier from left to right in order to read.

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