CCTV (Closed circuit television) Magnification for Low Vision

Published on
March 7, 2022

A CCTV provides hands-free magnification of reading material using a camera system. You look at a computer screen while the CCTV system does the magnification for you. Closed circuit television (CCTV) was originally used for security, and is still used for that purpose today. This technology was co-opted to develop a system in which the camera now focuses on whatever it is that the low vision patient needs to see better. It is typically used for reading, although it can be used for almost anything. 

You can magnify up to 20x and sometimes even higher with the digital zoom, not that you will always need it, but you do have that option. In addition to the magnification, many CCTV systems for low vision have a host of other features to improve contrast and color. 

What are some examples of tasks that a low vision patient will use a CCTV for? 

The most common usage of a CCTV system for low vision is for reading texts such as a book or a newspaper. However there are many other uses for a CCTV system. Another common reason to use a CCTV is for artists and craftspeople. If someone's career or hobby was to paint, draw, crochet, knit, make jewelry, or create anything that requires detailed vision, the CCTV can enable them to continue to do what they are passionate about despite their loss of vision. Let's say you want to look at your nails closely to do your nails, your camera could be focused on your hands. When you place your hands under the camera, you are no longer looking at your hands, but at the camera screen because it has magnified it. Some people use CCTVs to write letters as well as play games or do crossword puzzles because the magnification really helps them. The difficult part is getting used to not looking at what you're doing but at the screen that's magnifying it for you.

Why is a CCTV a good option for students with vision loss?

A CCTV is very useful to students because they study a lot of books. Books can be displayed on a screen for them. Other CCTV systems also have movable cameras, which can be set to focus on a book or notes and then can be moved to focus in the distance and  the students will get distant magnification. 

The CCTV allows students to look at a board the teacher is writing on and see what they are writing. CCTV systems are very versatile and they could bring the device to school. 

Originally, CCTVs were enormous, with huge screens and big cameras. There are a lot of them now that are streamlined like a tablet. You just have to be able to move the camera. Many of these cameras are tiny, making them portable and easy to carry into the classroom.

What CCTV for low vision should I get? 

This question is extremely important as often a patient or their loved one may go out and buy a CCTV before visiting a low vision optometrist. There are so many different CCTV systems out there, each one with its own features and pros and con’s. Before purchasing a CCTV you should schedule a low vision exam with a low vision optometrist. During that exam the low vision optometrist will help guide you on the kind of CCTV (and other devices) that will best meet your visual needs, your goals, and your budgets. If you live in the Los Angeles area you can schedule a low vision exam with Dr. Sarah Wolff. Our office is located in Bellflower, north of Long Beach. We are near the communities of Lakewood, Downey, and Cerritos. 


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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