The Complete Low Vision Aids Guide

Low Vision aids - Wallwork Opticians in Swinton

The NHIS data from 2018 found that 32.2 million adult Americans (or about 13% of all adult Americans) have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, or are blind or unable to see.

Low-vision devices are designed to improve the visual performance of children with low vision, which helps them in academia and social adaptation, and can also provide enrichment to their daily lives. Low-vision devices can be optical and electronic and they help children with low vision in a variety of areas.

Types of Devices


When regular lenses are unable to provide the necessary visual range, specialized lenses with optical properties capable of promoting improved vision are indicated. These types of lenses are broken down into three categories:

  • Distance
  • Intermediate distance
  • Near


A telescope can make daily activities easier. For example, you can read whiteboards, street signs, house and building numbers, billboards, etc. It’s also helpful when you want to look around quickly or focus on an object. However, there are some disadvantages. For example, it’s hard to see anything close-up; you can’t see any detail, and you can’t see very far away.

Telescopes are not universally accepted due to expense, difficulty in using the devices, and lack of aesthetics. However, they are very useful when used correctly. Good coordination and training are essential for anyone who wants to use a telescope.

There are many different types of telescopes, but there are some basic distinctions that can help you find the one that’s right for you. Galilean or Keplerian, handheld, spectacle-mounted, or clip-on, monoculars or binoculars, fixed focus or focusable, autofocus or not, each option has its own advantages.

Galilean Telescope

The Galilean telescope is the simplest type of telescope, using 2 lenses. A plus lens, closest to the object, is called the objective lens. The minus lens, closest to the eye, is called the ocular lens. The distance between the 2 lenses is determined by the difference in their focal lengths. The image it produces, a real and erect one, will be lighter and cheaper than a Keplerian telescope. It is a popular choice for children because its simple design is easier to use.

Keplerian Telescope

The Keplerian telescope is a type of optical system that uses a convex objective lens and a convex ocular lens. This type of telescope allows for a wide field of view and increased optical quality, making it better than the Galilean telescope. It is constructed with a pair of lenses, one being larger than the other. However, the size of the objective lens is smaller than the size of the ocular lens.

Hand-Held Telescope

Hand-held telescopes are simpler, lighter, and cheaper than ever before. They are popular for short activities like observing the moon or looking at the stars. Children may find this type of telescope especially helpful to use, but it can be a first-hand prescription choice for anyone!

Monocular / Binocular Telescope

A monocular telescope is the best option for people with visual discrepancies between both eyes. It’s cheaper, lighter, and more discreet than a binocular telescope. A monocular telescope can be used in either eye, even if it is the dominant one.

Binocular telescopes are recommended for people with similar VA between both eyes. Binoculars provide an increased field of vision and can be helpful for those with nystagmus. However, a binocular telescope not only costs more than a monocular telescope but also weighs more.

Autofocus Telescope

A fixed-focus telescope is a tool used for children with poor motor coordination. It is not as popular as a focusable telescope, which covers the entire spectrum of viewing distance and is preferred for children. Autofocus telescopes are heavier and more expensive, so they are not the first choice prescription for children.

Optical Aids for Near Tasks

Children, especially those in preschool, often don’t complain about their difficulty with near vision tasks. Their small print can be read without any problem if they are given adequate accommodation. It’s when school activities get more sophisticated and reading materials are printed in smaller fonts that magnification becomes necessary. By bringing objects too close to the eyes, near aids become extremely useful.

High-Plus Spectacles

High-plus spectacles are convex lenses mounted in a spectacle frame. They have a magnification factor of +1.25, which is the maximum for the eye’s natural hypermetropia. This high-plus focal distance is at or near optical infinity.

Hand-Held Magnifier

Hand-held magnifiers come in different shapes and styles. They all provide an increased size to the retinal image and bring it into focus, but they vary in their magnification capabilities. Convex lenses are perfect for tasks that require a large amount of magnification, such as those with limited mobility, those with presbyopia, or those who need to see tiny objects up close.

Stand Magnifier

Stand magnifiers are used as a reading aid for those who cannot hold a lens or tolerate the distance of microscopes. They typically have a single focal length and are often illuminated for better viewing. These magnifiers work well for kids and those who can’t hold a lens.


Telemicroscopes are distance telescopes that can be modified to focus from infinity to near range. They allow students to view at a greater distance than the average spectacles or magnifying hand-held glass lens. However, these telescopes can be more difficult to use because of their smaller visual field and critical depth of focus.


Non-optical aids are visual aids that do not use magnification. They can improve an individual’s existing aids or replace them entirely.

Linear Magnification

Relative size or linear magnification is when objects that are relatively smaller than others are enlarged to be the same size as the other objects. This happens with many different kinds of objects, but the most familiar examples are large print books, newspapers, and magazines.

Lighting Control

Lighting requirements vary depending on the individual. Low-level lighting is necessary for people with aniridia, achromatopsia, and albinism. Patients with glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, optic atrophy, and nuclear cataract require surfaces to be well lit.

Enhanced Contrast

Lighting control is important for achieving the perfect contrast, reducing glare in low-light environments, and enhancing overall visibility in intense lighting. For supporting daily activities in an easier way, shop prescriptive lenses in yellow or amber to combat low or intense lighting. As well, use aids such as black felt-tipped pens, bold lines, and contrasting colors.


Assistive technology is an important field of knowledge for visually impaired people. It includes products, resources, methodologies, strategies, practices, and services that promote functionality for them. Technology is becoming more advanced and beneficial for people with low vision.

Today’s electronics are more accessible for the disabled than ever before. One helpful tool for the visually impaired is a video magnifier system. Closed-circuit televisions, Bluetooth connections to smart projectors, large-print computer programs such as Zoom Text, screen readers such as Virtual Vision and Jaws, and computer tablets are other electronic devices that can help.