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Choosing and using a magnifier

If you have sight loss or your sight has deteriorated, you may find that using a low vision aid such as a magnifier can help.

Get an eye test (free of charge in Scotland)

Having a regular eye test is essential. Your optometrist (optician) will do the eye test and, depending on where you live, may supply a suitable magnifier. In some areas, they may refer you to your local low vision clinic, where you will be assessed and given the right magnifier.


Already have a magnifier but don’t use it?

If your sight has changed, you should visit your optometrist or low vision clinic, as your magnifier may no longer be suitable.


Patience and practice

Learning to use a magnifier takes regular practice, for short periods, over several weeks. It can help to experiment with different lighting and positioning of the magnifier. Remember that the lighting and reading conditions at home differ from those in the low vision clinic.


How to use your magnifier

Always use a clean magnifier. Clean the lens with a lens wiping cloth or a cloth dampened with warm soapy water. Dry the lens using a soft, dry, lint-free cloth. Make sure a light source shines directly onto what you are trying to see. Many magnifiers come with a built-in light.

When using a handheld magnifier, you should bring the lens close to your eye and then move the page towards the magnifier. You may only be able to see a few letters or words at a time, and it can be easy to lose your place.

Use your index finger as a guide. At the end of the line, use your finger to go back to the beginning and then drop down to the start of the following line. You can also use a ruler or a typoscope. A typoscope is a piece of plastic with a horizontal slot cut out that helps you focus on a line, a few words at a time.


How to practice

Using a magnifier can be tiring, but it will not damage your eyes. Use your magnifier in short bursts. Try a few minutes a day and slowly build up. Sitting in a comfortable position with good back support can help.

Try resting the arm holding the magnifier by putting a cushion under your elbow.


Five easy steps

  1. Set yourself up with a chair, possibly a table, a good light source shining onto the words, and a clipboard with the text you want to read attached to it to keep the pages flat.
  2. Clean the lens of your magnifier and use it close to your eye.
  3. Bring your paper close to the magnifier and pull back until the words come into focus.
  4. Remember, only the page moves, so keep your eye and magnifier steady and move the page as you read.
  5. Be patient, take plenty of breaks and practice often!


More advice and support

There are various types of digital magnifiers available. CCTV magnifiers, smartphones, tablets, and computer software can all help with reading.

Our digital suite has a wide range of equipment for you to try. We can demonstrate different devices and help you find the right technological solution to suit your needs. To book an appointment, please contact us on 0141 332 4632 or

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