Handheld Magnification Devices for Low Vision

Published on
May 25, 2022

When a person has poor vision, magnification can help them see better. 

By increasing the size of the thing the patient cannot see, the patient is able to see it.

Our low vision optometrist at our Los Angeles Low Vision clinic is residency trained Dr. Sarah Wolff. She explains that during a low vision evaluation she places a significant emphasis on discussing with the patient about where magnification will make the biggest impact and how it will be used. Understanding patient goals is the key to determine the ideal device for a patient. 

Handheld magnifiers

When it comes to magnifiers, most people think of handheld magnifiers as the easiest to use. These can be purchased at a drugstore. They are usually quite large. However, they are usually not very high magnification. 2x magnification is standard and 3x is maximum. And while that will work for quite a lot of things, it doesn't work for everything. However, the big window is a nice feature. That's why they usually have a bigger window whenever the magnification is lower. Magnification of this type is used to quickly look at something. A great tool if you need to read a phone number or look at a recipe. If you were trying to read a newspaper with a magnifier like this, it would take so long. It's not very convenient for long-time reading because you'd have to move it around. The issue with hand-held magnifiers is that you have a smaller view and you have to move your hand around, so it doesn't always flow nicely. Trying to do that becomes somewhat cumbersome.

Handheld magnifiers with LED light

Handheld magnifiers with lights are also available. These magnifiers have the option to turn the light on and off. Their magnifying power is a bit higher so the window is bigger. Even though there can be some glare, it can actually help when the reading material has a darker background.

Stand magnifiers with LED light

A stand magnifier is still one of the most commonly prescribed low vision devices. Standard magnifiers are placed on the page. Ideally, you would place it on a table and then just move it along. This allows you to have a more comfortable reading experience when you read a newspaper on a table. It also features 2.5x magnification and a large window. As the magnification increases, the window gets smaller. Another benefit of a stand magnifier is that it comes with a light. Whenever you are reading in a dark space, it is best if there is a light in the magnifier because otherwise it becomes very dim and it is much more difficult to read.

Dome magnifiers

Dome magnifiers fall between handheld magnifiers, which are meant for short-term reading, and stand magnifiers, which are meant for long-term reading. They keep your hands free while reading. There is more light coming through, so everything is perfectly clear. A full case blocks the light. A lighted mechanism would then be necessary. However, this is pretty simple for desktop use.

Our Phones

We are lucky to live in a world with technology that assists people with vision loss. Most of us carry around a low vision device without realizing it, a phone. 

Our phones can be adapted to use for contrast, magnification, and much more. 

Handheld CCTV- digital magnification

These are digital based handheld magnifiers that can provide a wide range of magnification powers, contrast improvements, and other tweaks that make reading more accessible. 


Visit us for a low vision evaluation

We welcome you to our practice located in Bellflower California. We have a passionate team of eye doctors and staff that take the time to help every patient achieve their best vision. Call our office at (562) 925-6591 to schedule a low vision evaluation with Dr. Wolff. 


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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