Magnifying eyeglasses

Magnifying eyeglasses

Magnifying eyeglasses are hands free magnifiers designed for viewing close objects for an extended period of time; such as for reading.

They look like, and are worn as, normal reading glasses, but they have a stronger lens which can magnify close objects.

Wearing a magnifier on your head instead of having to hold it is more comfortable for your arm, which won’t tire. You do have to hold the object quite close to see it clearly though.

Scroll down to see my picks for different styles of quality magnifying eyeglasses.

What are the different strength levels on magnifying eyeglasses?

When buying magnifying eyeglasses (or spectacles) you might come across 2 different systems for categorizing their strength. Some categorize the glasses by X power strength and some categorize them by diopter.

Diopter refers to the optical power or strength of the magnifying lens at one meter.

Four diopters (4.0D) is equal to a 100% increase in magnification, ie 1x power magnification, ie double the size of the viewed object.

Commonly, handheld magnifying glasses use the X magnification to indicate strength, whereas eyeglasses are measured in diopters. This isn’t always marked clearly. Sometimes eyeglasses are advertised as being a certain number X when what they really should say is diopter instead of X.

 

A guide to converting magnification strength of eyeglasses

If you use a magnifying glass of this strength… This is the equivalent strength in magnifying eyeglasses.
1x +4 diopter
1.5x +6 diopter
2x +8 diopter
2.5x +10 diopter
3x +12 diopter
4x +16 diopter
5x +20 diopter

 

What strength reading glasses do you need?

If you’ve used reading glasses or magnifying glasses before, use that as a guide to your needs.

Use the chart above to convert the magnifying glass strength you use to the equivalent level of diopters for reading glasses.  If you suspect you need something stronger go up a level or two.

If this is the first time you’ve needed magnifying eyeglasses then start out at a low level such as +4 diopter or less. You don’t want to get glasses that are too strong for you, because it’s more likely to cause you discomfort, pain and unnecessary hardship.

It is generally better to choose the lowest power level that allows you to effectively correct your vision.

Yes, this might mean you need to get new glasses as your vision worsens, but the good news is that magnifying eyeglasses are very affordable at only a few dollars each. Much cheaper than prescription glasses.

Glasses up to 12 diopter are readily available in store and online. Amazon has a huge range in numerous styles and patterns for men and women.

 

Different styles of magnifying eyeglasses

Magnifying reading glasses for women

Patterned fashion reading glasses
Ladies fashion patterned glasses

Kerecsen 5 Pairs Fashion Ladies Reading Glasses Spring Hinge Pattern Design. These come in various strengths ranging from .5 diopters to 6.0 diopters. Various colors and patterns available.

These are a top seller on Amazon with a 5 star rating and free shipping.

 

Unisex magnifying reading glasses for men or women

Anti fog magnifying glasses

These stylish looking magnifier safety glasses are anti fog with a vented nose bridge. They are available from .5 diopters to 3.00 diopters.

They are also available in a bifocal version, and in a brown sunglasses look.

Available from Amazon with free shipping.

 

unisex magnifying reading glasses

These unisex magnifying reading glasses by TruVision Readers come in various different strengths and colors. You can also buy one pair or multi packs.

Free shipping available from Amazon where these are a top selling product.

 

The strongest high power magnification glasses

Very strong magnifying eyeglasses

These magnifying spectacles are stronger than most.

Available in +4, +4.5, +5 and +6 magnification strength levels. Note that at the time of writing this article, the Amazon listing for the product is saying 4.0X rather than 4.0 diopter… but this is confusing and it ought to have written diopter. Available with free shipping from Amazon.

 

Magnifying reading glasses for men

stainless steel framed magnifying reading glasses

These stainless steel framed magnifying reading glasses with a lightweight metal frame, come in a 3 pack.

Free shipping available on Amazon.

 

Magnifying sunglasses

magnifying sunglasses

Reading Sunglasses with a +4 magnification level. Available with a black or tortoiseshell frame.

magnifying safety sunglasses

These magnifying safety sunglasses have a UV 400 filter for maximum UV protection. Available in 1.5, 2.0 or 2.5 diopter magnification.

Find the best price on Amazon.

 

Magnifying safety glasses

magnifying safety glasses by Spits Adventurewear

These magnifying safety glasses by Spits Adventurewear come in various magnification levels from 1.25 to 3.00 diopters.

Find the best price on Amazon.

 

Conclusion

Magnifying eyeglasses are an affordable solution for people with mild vision loss. They are much cheaper than prescription glasses. They give you a small amount of magnification hands-free so you don’t get tired holding a hand-held magnifier for extended periods of time. They come in many different styles and variations.

The system for measuring strength of eyeglasses is different to that of measuring strength of hand-held magnifying glasses, so check the table above to work out what strength magnifying eyeglasses you need.

Hands free magnifying glass reviews

Hands free magnifying glasses come in several variations. They may be used by people with regular vision for precision tasks, or by people with low vision to compensate for their vision loss.

These are used for many purposes including for hobbyists to read books or newspapers, sewing, knitting, quilting, jewelry design, woodworking, painting, drawing, puzzles, electronics, repairs and more. They may be used by professional trades people such estheticians / beauticians or jewelers.

These are my picks for the best hands free magnifying glasses for various purposes.

Compare the different types of hands free magnifiers

ProductMagnification rangeOther featuresMore details
Brightech LightView Pro Flex Magnifying Lamp

Brightech LightView Pro Flex Magnifying Lamp
Up to 1.75xFlexible gooseneck stand. Interchangeable stand or clamp.
Top rated magnifier
Read more below or buy on Amazon.
Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Glass Floor Lamp

Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Glass Floor Lamp
Up to 1.75xFloor lamp Read more below or buy on Amazon.
YOCTOSUN Head Mount Magnifier With 2 Led Professional Jeweler's Loupe


YOCTOSUN Head Mount Magnifier With 2 Led Professional Jeweler's Loupe
1.0X, 1.5X, 2.0X, 2.5X, 3.5X lensesHead mounted on eyeglass frame OR flexible headband.
Interchangeable lenses of varying strengths.
Top rated magnifier
Read more below or buy on Amazon.
Humanware Explore 7

Humanware 7" electronic magnifier reading the news paper
2.3x - 19x adjustable


For mild to moderate vision loss
Very large 7" screen
Built in stand so you don't have to hold it.
Distance viewing mode
Rechargeable battery
Read more below or buy on Amazon.
Humanware SmartView 360 Video Magnifier

Humanware Smartview 360 digital magnifier connected to an iPad for large display
2.6x to 57x adjustable


For moderate to severe vision loss
19" LCD screen sits on your table
Can point camera down to read, or at self for grooming, or in the distance.
Built in handle for portability (weighs 8kg)
Read more below or buy on Amazon.
GoVision 24" LCD portable electronic magnifier

GoVision Focus portable video magnifier reading a magazine with small text
1.7x to 83x adjustable


For mild to severe vision loss
Largest 24" LCD screen
Largest range of magnification
Enhanced color and contrast modes
Distance viewing and self view modes
OCR mode - speech feature reads text aloud so you can listen and rest your eyes
Read more below or buy on Amazon.

 

Best hands free magnifying glass with light

Brightech LightView Pro Flex Magnifying Lamp

Brightech LightView Pro Flex Magnifying Lamp

This versatile magnifying lamp has an impressive 5 star rating on Amazon after more than 1000 customer reviews. (Amazon also sells it with free shipping and with Amazon Prime.)

It can be used as a desk lamp or use the supplied clamp to attach it the side of a table, chair or desk. It has a fully adjustable goose neck that bends in any direction so you can get the right angle and distance to look through the lens.

It has bright energy saving LED lights surrounding the lens. The LED technology is is very bright and you don’t have to replace bulbs, as they are made to last for more than 20 years of use!

It magnifies up to 1.75x, which is fairly moderate magnification but suitable  for people with relatively good vision who want to make their task a bit more comfortable.

This is a great option for people with good vision or mild vision loss to make it easier to do craft, reading, crosswords or hobbies. It’s available in black or white.

Top pick as a hands free magnifying glass with light for crafts.

Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Glass Floor Lamp

Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Glass Floor LampBuy from Amazon

This floor lamp is perfect for someone who has a favorite chair they like to sit in to read. It’s also large enough to extend over a bed for nighttime reading, or for use at a desk or kitchen bench.

The top of the stand is a flexible gooseneck which allows you to position the magnifying lens where you want it.

It magnifies up to 175% (ie 1.75x magnification). This is fairly moderate magnification but suitable  for people with relatively good vision who want to make their task a bit more comfortable or those with mild vision loss.

It has a built in LED light with a dimmer.

Available in black or white stands.

Top pick as a hands free magnifying glass with light for reading.

YOCTOSUN Head Mount Magnifier With 2 Led Professional Jeweler’s Loupe

YOCTOSUN Head Mount Magnifier With 2 Led Professional Jeweler's LoupeBuy from AmazonThis head mount magnifier is a #1 best seller on Amazon for hobby tool magnifiers.

Wear your magnifier on your head with the Yoctosun head mount magnifier. There are 2 ways of wearing this:

  1. use the comfortable eyeglass frame with rubber nose-pad or
  2. wear the flexible headband for a more-secure fit.

It comes with 5 interchangeable lenses with 1.0x, 1.5X, 2.0X, 2.5X, 3.5X magnification lenses made of scratch-resistant acrylic. See your work pieces or text magnified up to 350% original size with high clarity.

A headlight is built into the magnifier, with 2 super-bright LED – powered by 3 AAA batteries (included).

Great for jewelry work, watch repair, arts & crafts. This is a versatile reading magnifier that doesn’t require you to stay in the one spot, which makes it great for use in the kitchen, when traveling, or when reading away from a desk.

A great pick if you want to wear your magnifier on your head to keep your hands free.

 

HumanWare Explore 7 Handheld Electronic Magnifier

Humanware 7" electronic magnifier reading the news paperBuy Humanware Explore 7 digital magnifier from Amazon

Click here to read my detailed review of the Humanware Explore 7.

This electronic magnifier is a top pick for someone with moderate vision impairment who wants a hands free magnifier for reading.

You don’t need hands to hold the Explore 7 magnifier, as it stands up on the table or other solid surface you rest it on. You will need to push it side to side as you read. The very large 7″ screen means you fit more words on the screen when reading, but it is still a portable size.

It has a 7″ LCD screen and adjustable magnification from 2.3X-19X. You can also plug the Explore 7 into a TV or computer screen via a cable to see the video image taken from the Explore on the TV. This allows you to magnify what you’re reading even more as you can look at it on a much bigger screen.

It runs on a rechargeable battery and comes with charger included. It also comes with a cleaning cloth and a sturdy case to protect it when you’re on the go.

Able to buy online and have delivered to you.

 

Best portable electronic magnifier

Top pick for desk size portable electronic magnifier

Humanware Smartview 360 digital magnifier connected to an iPad for large displayBuy Humanware smartview 360 digital magnifier from AmazonHumanWare SmartView 360 Video Magnifier

For people who want to read a lot for pleasure, or for those with more severe vision loss, the greatest solution is to get an electronic magnifier that sits on your table or desk. The SmartView 360 has a 19″ LCD screen, which means you can fit a lot on the screen at once. Compare this to using a strong magnifying glass where you only see about one word at a time through the lens.

The controls are easy to use with practice, and are attached to the screen by a wire so they don’t get lost.

The large screen is also great for looking at photos or pictures, which you can’t really do properly with a powerful magnifying glass.

The SmartView camera can point any direction. Point down to read, write or do handiwork; point across the room for meetings or classes; and point at self for personal grooming. This is very versatile and allows you to keep your hands free for crafts, writing, or other tasks and see what you’re doing magnified greatly on the screen in front of you.

Magnification levels for desktop – 2.6x to 57x; distance – 0.6x to 27x; self view – 1x to 4x

Buy online from Amazon to have delivered to you.

 

Best large electronic magnifier with speech

GoVision Focus portable video magnifier reading a magazine with small textBuy GoVision Focus electronic desktop magnifier from AmazonGoVision – 24″ LCD Auto Focus Portable Electronic Magnifier

This is the ultimate option for someone who wants a strong magnifying glass for reading.

The GoVision digital magnifier has the largest screen available at the time of writing – 24″, which is the size of a large computer screen.

It also has an exceptionally large range in its magnification abilities – it can magnify from 1.7x up to 83x. This means it can be helpful for people with mild vision loss right through to those with severe vision loss.

One particular benefit of this equipment is that it can read printed text aloud in speech. This is wonderful for people with severe vision loss, for those who tire quickly, and for people who prefer to listen rather than strain their eyes.

Read more or order now to have delivered to you

 

5 Christmas gifts for someone with low vision

Christmas gift for low vision

It’s the holiday season and we want everyone to share in the jolliness!!!

If you’re looking for ideas, you might get some inspiration from this list of 5 Christmas gifts for someone with low vision.

Carson ezRead digital magnifier – convert TV into a vision aide

Carson ezRead digital magnifier for TVBuy ezread magnifier from AmazonThis handy tool transforms your TV into a visual reading aide.

Put it on top of something you want to read, and a magnified image of what’s underneath the ezRead appears in full color on your TV screen. The bigger the TV screen, the larger the magnified image appears on the screen.

The aide plugs into your TV quickly and easily using the video cable supplied. It has the shape of a computer mouse and is controlled by your hand movements in a similar way.

It has internal LED lighting to ensure the image on the screen is bright and easy to see.

Powered by 3 AAA batteries (not included) or the included A/C power adapter.

Find the best price on Amazon.

 

Large print playing cards

Large print playing cards for low vision card players

Buy large print playing cards from AmazonLet everyone join in the fun and games this Christmas. Large print playing cards make it easier for elderly with vision problems to continue to play the games they know and love.

Available as a 1 pack, 2 pack or 4 pack. I’d recommend getting at least a 2 pack so you can play lots of favorite card games that might use more multiple packs at a time, including bridge, canasta, solitaire and hearts.

Find the best price on Amazon.

 

Simple, large button TV-remote

Tek Pal large button remote controlBuy TEK big button remote for TV from Amazon

The Tek Pal big button remote control is very simple and easy to use. It gets rid of all the uncommonly used buttons and makes the ones most likely to be used huge and easy to find.

It has only 6 buttons – on/off, mute, volume up and down and channel up and down. The buttons are back lit to make them easier to see. They are also tactile and in different shapes which allows low vision users to feel for the button they need rather than relying on sight.

It runs on AA batteries.

Find the best price on Amazon.

 

Simple large button phone

Big button phone for seniorsBuy simple large button phone from Amazon

Stay in contact with your loved ones with a large button phone.

The Emerson EM300WH Big Button Seniors Phone has very large buttons with large font and high contrast. It is an uncluttered phone that is simple and easy to use.

This model has a 10 number speed dial, and a redial button for convenience. It has a useful hands-free speakerphone mode as well.

For peace of mind, this phone also works in power outage for emergencies.

Find the best price on Amazon.

Find more large button phones on our page on low vision aids.

 

Give the gift of reading

These GoVision portable electronic magnifiers have an attached remoteBuy GoVision electronic magnifier from Amazon

There are a range of magnifiers that will help your loved one get back to their love of reading. Whether it’s the newspaper, letters, magazines or the mail, they will appreciate being able to get back the independence and enjoyment they used to enjoy before their vision deteriorated.

For people with mild vision loss, try a magnifying glass. Read my reviews to find one for your budget and needs.

For people with moderate vision loss, you’ll want an electronic magnifier. Read my reviews to find one for your budget and needs.

More

For more ideas of Christmas gifts for low vision people, check out the page on low vision aids.

 

Best magnifying glass for macular degeneration

old woman with macular degeneration

I’m commonly asked about the best magnifying glass for macular degeneration. That’s because age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss.

Some of the key features to look out for are: quality, built in light, and the right balance between size and strength…. Unfortunately you can’t have a traditional magnifying glass that is both big AND strong… Though you can if you get an electronic magnifier. Click here to read more about electronic magnifiers.

 

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) is a disease that affects the central part of the retina – the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eyeball. It affects the central vision which can cause problems with reading, driving and recognizing people. It doesn’t usually cause total vision loss. About 80% of people with AMD have the dry (atrophic) form, and 20% have the wet (exudative) form.

Young girl in the park

Normal vision

Vision with macular degeneration has a black spot in the middle

Vision with macular degeneration

There isn’t currently any cure for AMD, and no treatment for the dry form. There is some treatment for the wet form, but it doesn’t restore vision as much as patients would like.

Unfortunately, the best we can usually do at this stage, is help the patient learn to work around the problem. That is where low vision aids help.

 

How does a magnifying glass help someone with macular degeneration?

Even with the use of a magnifier, the person will still have a black or blurry spot in the middle of their vision. Vision aids won’t get rid of that.

A magnifying glass helps, by increasing the size of writing you want to read, so that less of the word is obscured by the spot in the central vision. This makes is easier to take an ‘educated guess’ at what you’re seeing, based on what you see in the peripheral of your vision.

 

The best magnifying glass for macular degeneration

Quality magnifiers have less distortion

When you buy a magnifying glass, get a good quality one. Cheaper ones can have a lot of distortion, which can cause eye strain and headaches. Someone with macular degeneration already has their central vision obscured so they need to make the most of their peripheral vision. Cheap magnifying glasses often have good focus in the center of the lens but distortion around the edges. This is particularly problematic for people with AMD, so you need to spend a bit more money for a good quality aid.

 

Built-in light

Built in light is a must, in my opinion. The light significantly increases the contrast which makes reading easier. Magnifying glasses with light will take AA or AAA batteries in the handle.

Most of the magnifiers sold through reputable low vision agencies will have this feature. If you’re going to buy a magnifying glass online make sure you get one with light. To read my reviews of magnifying glasses with light, click here.

 

Higher magnification isn’t necessarily better

Many people with AMD make the mistake of purchasing the strongest magnifying glass on offer. This isn’t necessarily helpful though, as then you’ll only see a couple of letters at a time. This can make it very laborious to read as you can’t get the whole context of a word.

If you consult a low vision specialist they can help you trial different models of magnifying glass. Otherwise, it might take some trial and error to find the best level of magnification for you.

Lighted magnifying glass for macular degeneration - set of 3Buy Fancii illuminated magnifier from AmazonOne solution to this, is to buy a magnifying glass set with different strength lenses. This can give you an idea of which strength works best for you.  For example, the Fancii Illuminated LED Handheld Magnifying Glass Set has three interchangeable heads. The largest head is 2x strength, the middle size 3.5x strength, and the small head is 10x strength. This can be a good place to start – though some people will need stronger magnification than this.

 

Bigger does not equal better

Many people hope to find a big magnifying glass that will cover a whole page at once.

Unfortunately, due to the rules of physics, and the way light bends through the lens, the bigger a lens the weaker the strength of magnification. It also lowers the contrast of the writing you’re looking at.

If you want a magnifying glass (rather than an electronic magnifier) you must find the best balance between the size of the lens and the strength of magnification.

 

Reading glasses

If you have prescribed reading glasses, use these at the same time as using a magnifying glass for the best results.

 

Electronic magnifiers for macular degeneration

Electronic magnifier for macular degenerationAbove I’ve covered the best magnifying glass for macular degeneration, limiting it to traditional magnifying glasses. But if you can afford it, the best option is probably an electronic magnifier because these are high contrast, large and high strength.

Electronic or digital magnifiers come in a range of sizes – from the size of a computer screen, to portable pocket-size models.

To read my reviews on electronic magnifiers, click here.

 

Fancii Magnifying Glass with Light – set of 3 – Review

ancii lighted magnifying glass set

A lighted magnifying glass set of 3 illuminated heads and one handleBuy Fancii illuminated magnifier from AmazonReview summary:

This Fancii magnifying glass set contains one handle and 3 interchangeable heads of different magnification strengths. Each head has built in lights.

Who it’s suitable for:

This package solution is a great option for someone with mild vision loss, who needs to read font of varying sizes. For example, perhaps you read large print books and only need a small amount of magnification for them, but when reading the print in the newspaper you need a stronger magnifying glass.

It is also a good option for people who’s vision varies from time to time. Many people, for example, find that their eyes tire towards the end of the day, so may benefit from using the stronger magnifying lens then.

Who it’s NOT suitable for:

It is NOT suitable for people with moderate or severe vision loss. They will need stronger magnification than this. In that case, try looking at the digital magnifiers.

It is NOT suitable for people with dexterity problems. Some seniors can have difficulty pressing in the buttons to change the heads. This is okay if you don’t need to change the magnifying heads regularly, or have someone to help you change them. If you do need to use different sized magnifying glasses in one day and don’t have good dexterity, consider buying multiple magnifying glasses instead of a set that only comes with one handle.

After more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon this magnifying glass set is rated at 4.5 stars. It is a great product if matched with the right people.

Buy Fancii illuminated magnifier from Amazon

About the Fancii Magnifying Glass Set

This set provides 3 heads containing magnifying lenses of differing strengths. Each of them is illuminated with LED lights.

  • The lens with the largest diameter (3.5″) has the mildest magnification of 2x. This will approximately double the size of what you look at through the lens and is suitable for people with mild vision loss. It has a focal length of 8.5″.  (This means it focuses best when you hold it 8.5″ away from the page.)
  • The second lens is slightly smaller in diameter (3″) but slightly stronger in magnification strength. It has a focal length of 4.5″ and provides magnification of 3.5x. This would be good for someone with mild vision loss to use when reading particularly small writing.
  • The smallest lens (1.5″) is the strongest lens. It has a focal length of 1.5″ and magnifies 10x. This magnification strength is suitable for someone with moderate vision loss.

Changing the heads

To change the heads, first remove the head currently attached to the handle. This is done by pressing the buttons either side of the head where it connects to the handle. After that’s removed, simply slide on the head you want to use until it clicks into place.

This process is relatively straight-forward for people with good dexterity.

For people who have a poor sense of touch, as well as poor vision, it can be very challenging. In this case, it would be better to buy multiple magnifying glasses rather than a set that only contains one handle.

Lighted magnifying glass set of 3 by Fancii

Buy Fancii magnifying glass with light from Amazon

The benefits of getting a set of magnifying glasses

  1. If you need to read font of varying sizes you can switch the head to the one that is most comfortable for the task. For example, perhaps you read large print books and only need a small amount of magnification for them, but when reading the print in the newspaper you need a stronger magnifying glass.
  2. If your vision varies from time to time you can change the magnifying head as you need to. Many people, for example, find that their eyes tire towards the end of the day, so may benefit from using the stronger magnifying lens then.
  3. You can share between multiple people who need different levels of magnification.
  4. As your vision deteriorates this set will last longer, without having to go out and buy a new magnifying glass. So it is an economical option.

 

A magnifying glass with light

I always recommend getting a magnifying glass with light, as this improves reading results significantly. Each of the heads in this magnifier set contains 2 energy efficient LED lights. They are powered with 3 AAA batteries which go in the handle. The batteries are not included.

 

Other benefits

This lighted magnifying glass is compact and stylish. It has an ergonomically designed handle with padding to ensure better grip and comfort. There are 2 color options, with either a black handle or a pretty pale blue handle.

It is made with quality materials, including a glass lens.

You are able to buy it online through Amazon and have it delivered to you. After more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon this set is rated as 4.5 stars. People have generally been very happy with this purchase. When bought through Amazon it comes with a money back satisfaction guarantee.

Buy Fancii magnifying glass with light from Amazon

 

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