Macular Degeneration: Low Vision Aids

Macular Degeneration: Low Vision Aids

Posted under Living With Low Vision

As the progression of Macular Degeneration compromises central vision, causing images to lose sharp detail, darken, and blur, low vision magnifiers and aids provide visual solutions for daily tasks and hobbies.  Presently there are many low vision devices to choose from, each designed to meet the individual need with function and ease of use.  As with all progressions in technology, some vision enhancement devices are as simple as a hand held magnifier, while others are complex designed for media connection and split screen capability.  Regardless of how simple or advanced the job, low vision devices are allowing individuals with macular degeneration and other vision compromising conditions the freedom of performing daily tasks with visual confidence.

Devices at a Glance

As the options are numerous, beginning with a traditional pair of eyeglasses, becoming familiar with various low visions aids and devices will provide a solid foundation for deciding which product is best suited for your individual need and want. 

Computer Monitor Magnifiers

Most computers offer the option to magnify the text without an additional device.  By simply holding the “control” key and “+” or “-“ simultaneously, the text on your computer may be changed to a larger or smaller sized print.  However changing the text size may not be enough visual support for individuals with macular degeneration.  Attaching a computer monitor magnifier to the monitor of your computer will lessen the effects of eyestrain and enhance visibility while working with your computer.  Many sizes and styles are available to accommodate the varying computer monitors and individual vision needs. 

Book Magnifiers

A quintessential tool, book magnifiers provide visual support to individuals with macular degeneration, increasing text size, and possibly providing additional light, sharpness, contrast and more.  The most common daily used book magnifier is perhaps magnified reading glasses, which by no means, is the end of the line for reading and visual magnification.  Though reading glasses are often inadequate for individuals with macular degeneration, there are several options for book magnifying products, varying in size, style, and technology equipment, efficiently allowing for the favorite reading chair experience, end of the day bedtime reading, and on the go reading with ease.

Handheld Magnifying Glass

A traditional tool for enlarging images, seemingly relegated to the use of detectives in black and white cinema, the handheld magnifying glass is a familiar vision-enhancing device.  However, before you buy the handheld magnifying glass to aid with low vision, there are a few guidelines to consider:  Determining which magnification power, lens size, focal length/distance, and lens material (glass or acrylic) are worthy factors of contemplation in choosing the right handheld magnifying glass. 

Handheld Electronic Magnifiers

Small and easy to use while on the go, portable magnifiers are great for everyday.  It is common for portable magnifiers to do more than simply address the need to enlarge an image; lighting, contrast, image capture, compatibility with other devices, and color viewing modes are options presented by various devices, increasing the level of visual aid provided by the magnifier.  Lighting is important for viewing clear images. By adding brightness, adjusting the focus and contrast makes these little tools become a powerful addition to your vision.  Products such as the Pebble and the Amigo portable magnifiers specialize in providing visual aid through handheld electronic technology.  

The Pebble:  Easy grip, lightweight and powerful (up to 10x magnification), the Pebble is an ideal portable low vision magnifier.  Small enough to be carried in a pocket or purse, the Pebble is easy to use, offering 28 different viewing options, freeze image capture, on-off lighting, brightness adjust, and is available in 2 LCD high resolution screen size designs: 3.5” or 4.3”.

As an addition in preference, the Amigo possesses many of the same vision enhancing principles, yet in a different design capacity.  Both devices are excellent handheld electronic magnifiers.

The Amigo: Also lightweight and easy to use, the Amigo is an outstanding traveling low vision magnifier.  Weighing only 1.3 lbs. the Amigo rests directly above the reading material, displaying magnified text on the screen with options for adjusting brightness, contrast, and size (up to 14x magnification).  Equipped with auto focus, traveling case and portable stand, the Amigo offers more than merely a “bigger picture”.  The Amigo provides 6 viewing modes, 6.5” LCD anti-glare screen, TV connection options (for increased magnification), and freeze frame viewing mode. 

Portable Electronic Magnifiers

Designed to meet the need for versatility, portable electronic magnifiers cover the spectrum, aiding with daily visual functions ranging from morning make-up to the at-work desk mounted magnifier.  Larger than a handheld magnifiers and more powerful, portable electronic magnifiers allow around the house, school, and workplace visual assistance with versatility and ease of use.  Both the Acrobat 3 in 1 and the Transformer provide multiple viewing mode, accessories for diversified use, and much more. 

Featured by the Acrobat 3 in 1 Portable Electronic Magnifier, a camera relays the image to a monitor allowing for real time mirror image viewing.  The camera is equipped with the ability to magnify up to 75x while allowing for up-close or long distance image viewing and may be removed for easy transportation when multiple workstations are required.  Along with the many features offered by the Acrobat, aiding with the macular degeneration vision needs are features such as lighting, contrast, and image capture. 

The Transformer, offering up to 30x magnification, weighing less than 3 lbs and is easy to use, consists of an adjustable arm mounted camera, capable of viewing 330 degrees for reading, distance viewing and mirror image self-viewing.  A perfect solution for computer compatibility, the Transformer is simply connected via USB port to laptop or desktop computer.  The transformer boasts of an easy to travel design and is equipped with auto installing software increasing the already multiple functions. Transformer is a perfect portable electronic magnifier for a home/work/ school lifestyle.   

Desktop Low Vision Magnifier

For Individuals working in a more stationary location, a desktop low vision magnifier will supply the most powerful magnification (about 77x) and a wealth of visual support.  For desktop magnifiers like the Merlin, progressive design meets innovative technology.  Built ready to use, the Merlin uses a LCD screen to display clear crisp images in full color or black and white.  Like most electronic low vision magnifiers, the Merlin offers viewing modes and color contrast, optimal for reading and vision enhancement.  There are multiple models for the Merlin desktop low vision magnifier, which include the ability to connect to the computer or a VGA monitor and more. 

Along with choosing the right low vision assist device, basic changes in the home and office can improve daily tasks.  Larger print and displays for clocks, telephones, and books may prove to be an easy adjustment to enhance visual tasks.  Printing directions and schedules from a computer with a large and clear font, then positioning the printed instructions/information in a location where reading is well lit and easy to find may also aid in the daily routines.  When beginning a task requiring visual attention, choose a location with plenty of light.  The best source of light is natural light (light provided by the sun), however lights and lamps are available with the design to mimic natural lighting.  A well-lighted area will reduce eyestrain and provide optimal visibility, creating a stronger visual result.  Being creative with how to support visual information, establishing color-coded routines (perhaps for medication), writing with a thicker felt pen or marker and more will further aid with vision related tasks throughout the day.