Low vision aids generally magnify the object of interest so they become visible and readable. They come in a wide range of power for different magnification. The following shows the types of optical aids.
High Addition Readers
They are to be worn like conventional eyeglasses however, the object of interest has to be held at a much closer distance. It is normally used for reading, threading and close-up tasks that requires both hands to be free from holding an additional magnifier.
Hand magnifiers provide varying levels of magnification of text with or without added LED illumination for an easier reading experience for individuals with low vision. These can be used without reading glasses.
They are to be placed on the reading material that you are looking at. Magnifiers like these work best with reading eyeglasses and they are useful for people with shaky hands. Some of them come with build-in light (LED).
They are used to see objects or sign boards that are far away. Some can be attached onto spectacles while some can be held like binoculars.
An electronic magnifier uses a camera to enlarge images digitally. The images can be magnified according to visual demands and contrast adjustments can be digitally manipulated to reduce eye fatigue when reading.
Portable Video Magnifiers
These are small enough to be brought around which can be good for tasks like reading newspapers, mails, price tags and food labels. They offer high definition images that can be magnified according to visual demands.
Desktop Video Magnifiers (CCTV)
They are similar to the portable video magnifiers except being bigger in size. This desktop version has the screen supported at a height to allow the user to place their hand below to write directly on the reading material. Some of these come with a distance camera attachment which can be good for students viewing the whiteboard during lessons. Some models include Optical character reader (OCR) function which converts text to speech which is useful for someone with more profound vision loss.
There are also a range of non-optical devices that can help people with low vision in their activities of daily living. These help make visual tasks seen easily by altering their colour, contrast, size and position.
Relative Size and Larger Assistive Devices
Glare and Light Control
Use of sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, visors, ball-caps, side-shields are recommended to reduce glare that may affect vision.
Talking clock, watch, calculator, medication alarm, read-out thermometers are good alternatives to the conventional gadgets.
Use of signature/letter/writing guide, dark and bold felt-tip pens, keyboard overlay are some ways that can help to enhance contrast.
Accessibility functions are built in features in all smart phones to make it easier for everyone to use the device. They are available in both IOS and android platforms. The following are some of the common features that can be useful for someone with low vision.
The entire display on the screen can be magnified by activating the magnification or zoom function depending on your phone’s operating system.
Text size can be enlarged from the phone settings for ease of reading.
Text contrast can be enhanced to make reading easier by selecting high contrast text and/or bold text.
Activating the dark mode or smart invert will reverse the screen background and text colour. This function can make reading from the screen easier and more comfortable for someone with reduced contrast sensitivity or glare issues.
For someone with advanced vision loss, this function may be useful to have the selected text read out by the phone.
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