Monday, May 26, 2008

Electronic magnifying glass can help people with low vision

A label magnified with the Quicklook Focus.

According to the NY Times Novelities column May 25, the old-fashioned magnifying glass has been upgraded to a hand-held video device that can benefit people who have low vision or are losing their vision.

These newer lightweight, portable devices weigh about 9 ounces or less and can enlarge the print on closeby or more distant objects. For example, users can pass the magnifier over a menu in a poorly lit restaurant, for example, or aim it at a product on a grocery store aisle.

Dr. Bruce P. Rosenthal, chief of low-vision programs at Lighthouse International in Manhattan, which provides services for people with vision loss, said, "the portable magnifiers, with their built-in illumination and powerful electronics, have many advantages over traditional optical devices like magnifying glasses."

“Optical devices can’t increase the contrast like these devices,” he said. “Loss in contrast causes as many problems as loss of visual acuity.”