Magnifiers: What, How, and Where to Buy?

A digital handheld magnifier held up to a prescription bottle. The magnifier's screen shows an enlarged view of the prescription's information.

A magnifier can be a handy tool, but it can be difficult to find the right one for you. Here are answers to the 3 most common questions we get about magnifiers:

What magnifier is right for me?

It depends. Room lighting, the task at hand, and cost are factors for deciding. You may even want more than one. Here is a brief overview of the different types:

  • Handheld Magnifiers are inexpensive and portable and come in different sizes and strengths. The stronger the lens, the closer it has to get to what you’re reading.
  • Digital handheld video magnifiers are also portable and have a camera attached to a video screen. Digital magnifiers will enlarge the image and change the contrast or brightness on the screen.
  • Desktop Digital Magnifiers are larger versions of digital magnifiers. Similar to the handheld version, you can enlarge the image on the screen and adjust the contrast or brightness. These tend to be more expensive and may require additional training and setup.
  • Monoculars, or telescopes, are held up to your eye to magnify what you see at a distance. They are also portable and come in a variety of sizes and strengths.

How do you use magnifiers?

Start with a low vision assessment from a low vision doctor, certified vision rehabilitation therapist (CVRT), or certified low vision therapist (CLVT) who can help you determine which magnifiers work for you.

You can even try before you buy with the Telelowvision program from Eschenbach Optik of America.

Where can I buy magnifiers?

Magnifiers can be purchased online at a variety of stores. We’ve linked some of them in the Resources sections in our Magnifiers workshop series.

Any or all of these magnifiers can make great additions to your reading toolbox. Contact a learning expert with any questions you have about magnifiers.