There is a wide range of devices that can magnify pictures and text. These range from reading glasses to video magnifiers that amplify the image from a camera onto a screen.

  • Generic reading glasses - available from some high street shops but not as good as a pair from a proper optician. Eyestrain from not using the correct eyewear can cause tiredness and headaches and in the long term may damage the eyes
  • Reading glasses - most will allow you to see things close to you, but there are glasses designed specifically to help with TV viewing. If you have trouble reading the subtitles on a TV, then these may help
  • Compact mini pocket magnifier | © OptelecHandheld magnifiers - can be optical or digital. Optical magnifiers use lenses to magnify the image and may include a light to help you to see the subject. Digital magnifiers use a camera to detect the image and a screen to display it. Optical magnifiers are typically fixed at one magnification while digital magnifiers usually allow you to increase or decrease the magnification or sometimes change the colour scheme to make text easier to read. Some digital magnifiers are plugged in to televisions or computers to make use of the large screen
  • Portable video magnifiers - these have a camera pointing downwards mounted on a frame. Books and documents can be placed underneath and the magnification can be increased or decreased as needed. The picture might be displayed on an integrated screen or sent to a computer or laptop. The colour scheme and contrast are often changeable, and versions which plug into a computer may include software that can read the document to you. On some versions the camera can be rotated to face the user to act as a magnified mirror or pointed at an object in the distance to act as a telescope
  • Merlin LCD video desktop magnifier | © Enhanced Vision]Desktop video magnifiers - look like a television or monitor but have a camera built-in to the screen pointing downwards. These are just used to magnify books and magazines and can include settings to change the colour scheme or change the contrast

What should I look for?

When thinking about glasses the first step should always be to go to an optician. This will ensure the glasses you use are appropriate to your needs. Opticians can also detect some health conditions related to eyesight.

Video magnifiers can be expensive and come in various forms, so look at the styles and designs before choosing which is best for you. Trade shows will have a selection of models, and manufacturers and sellers should advise when they will exhibit at a tradeshow near you.

Some examples of magnifiers

  • Desktop and stand magnifiers - these magnifiers are available with lighting included to aid magnification and adjustable screens
  • Vocatex read aloud magnifier | © ForcetenVideo magnifiers and reading machines - Some companies can supply magnifiers that also read text aloud at the same time
  • Pocket magnifiers - if you need a magnifier on the go, then a pocket magnifier that can be positioned over reading materials or objects may be just what you need
  • USB mouse colour option | © BierleyComputer / USB mouse - this is hardware which is connected to a computer, laptop or net book. Placing the mouse on a printed text or image displays them on the computer screen with enhanced magnification

Possible stockists

Please note: the following list is not exhaustive and Sense is not responsible for the content of external sites nor do we endorse any of the products mentioned.

Enhanced Vision
Force Ten

First published: Wednesday 23 May 2012
Updated: Tuesday 15 October 2013