Finding The Right Low Vision Aid: Our Hand-Picked Top 10
Last updated: December 24, 2021
Low vision aids are devices that assist those living with vision loss or legal blindness improve their visual performance. They help to enrich the lives of individuals with visual impairment and aid them in performing daily activities.
There are various types of low vision aids available, which can be categorized into optical, non-optical, and high-tech aids. Low-vision aids are usually task-specific and can be used for close, intermediate, or distance viewing tasks.
This article outlines different types of low vision aids, how you can choose the right assistive device for you, and our handpicked top 10 low vision aids for people.
Types of Low Vision Aids
Low vision aids can be generally categorized into non-optical aids, optical aids, and high-tech aids, including all-in-one assistive technologies.
Non-Optical Aids for the Visually Impaired
Non-optical aids are external adaptations that improve vision to help execute everyday tasks like reading, labeling, and organizing. Non-optical aids are simple to use and readily available but do not use lenses as optical aids do. Examples of non-optical aids include glare-proof sunglasses, illumination devices like lamps, large-print books, and needle-threaders.
Optical Aids for Low Vision
Optical aids for low vision directly enhance vision through the use of lenses. Lenses are placed between the eye and the object to be viewed to enhance vision. Lenses work by using magnification to enlarge the object in the field of vision. Optical aids include low vision magnifiers, such as stand and hand-held magnifiers, telescopes, low vision glasses, and glare-control devices with tinted lenses. Low-vision optical aids differ from regular glasses or magnifiers due to enhanced magnification power and higher prescription strength.
Electronic Devices for Low Vision
Electronic devices for low vision come in various shapes and sizes, depending on their function. The most popular electronic low vision product is a camera system that shows a magnified image on a monitor for the user to read books, novels, or magazines. Other forms of electronic devices for low vision are portable and hand-held, like a screen reader used for reading labels or menus. Note that these types of high-tech assistive devices are usually costly, and may require training to use properly.
All-In-One Assistive Technologies
Most low vision aids are task-specific, such that a person with low vision will require multiple devices to assist with the various activities in their day. All-in-one assistive technologies, such as eSight, however, can be used across multiple activities. Truly, eSight is revolutionizing the industry by helping individuals with low vision regain the ability to perform activities of daily living such as reading, studying, playing sports, or working.
Choosing The Right Assistive Device
With so many different kinds of low vision aids to choose from, it can be overwhelming to make a decision about which assistive device is right for you. Some important factors to consider when choosing an assistive device are the level of assistance required, activities the device will be used for, the eye condition it will be compensating for, and personal preference in the type of device. A person will likely require multiple low vision aids for carrying out different activities if not choosing an all-in-one device.
Your Visual Acuity And Low Vision Condition
The right low vision aid greatly depends on your level of vision and the condition of your eyes.
Low vision aids can improve sight in people with:
For example, night vision goggles can help improve the vision of people with Macular Degeneration who experience night blindness. For people who are sensitive to light, glare-control devices can be helpful. Electronic magnifiers or distance telescopes can help people who have myopia or have trouble seeing distant objects.
Your Lifestyle And Personal Goals
The right kind of low vision aid will also accommodate your lifestyle, needs, and personal goals. For example, if you are a student with visual impairment, then you will require an aid that can help you with reading, taking notes, and participating in class.
On the other hand, if you have hobbies like playing video games, watching TV, or if you work on computers, you will also want low vision aids that can work at a distance, such as electronic video magnifiers.
When To Introduce Low Vision Devices Into Your Lifes
A low vision aid can help improve vision quality at all stages of life including childhood, teenage years, and adulthood.
Assistive Technology in Childhood
Children with low vision can have their vision improved by low vision devices. For example, they can use glasses with high magnification power to help with reading and anti-glare glasses when playing outdoors in bright light.
It is helpful to introduce low vision aids to children at an early stage, as it improves their vision and enhances their learning ability. In addition, it makes them adaptive to assistive technology at an early age by boosting their confidence level with the devices.
Low Vision Devices For Students and Teenage Years
Low vision devices are helpful for students and teenagers navigating their education and social lives. The right devices can aid with learning activities, such as reading a chalkboard and watching instructional videos, while also permitting them to participate in sports and clubs. Mobility and ease of use are key factors during these years, such as with childhood.
Assistive Devices For Adulthood
Adults have to carry out multiple tasks in their daily lives, which vision loss can complicate. Usually, adults require multiple low vision aids to navigate through everyday life smoothly. For example, an adult with low vision may use a screen reader for reading price tags, restaurant menus, or maps, and use reading glasses with high power for reading books or novels.
Low-Vision Aids For Seniors
Eye diseases like Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, Glaucoma, and Diabetic Retinopathy can greatly impact a senior’s visual functioning and ability to fully participate in life. This can lead to the development of depression and withdrawal from regular activities. Using low-vision aids such as portable magnifiers and magnifying reading glasses can restore the morale of seniors by helping them accomplish tasks like walking, reading newspapers, watching TV, and so on.
What Can Be Done About the Cost of Assistive Technology?
Although low-tech assistive devices are usually affordable, the majority of high-tech assistive devices are costly. eSight aims to make assistive technology affordable so that visually impaired people from all walks of life can make the most of their remaining sight. eSight offers veteran and insurance coverages in collaboration with government bodies, insurance companies, and organizations to make its assistive technology accessible to a wide range of people. In addition, it also hosts a fundraising community and donor program, eMPOWER, to further promote accessibility in assistive technologies.
Top 10 Low-Vision Aids Our Low Vision Community Loves
Presented below is a compilation of the most popular, top 10 low-vision aids that can help you or someone you love to improve their vision.
1. eSight® – Award-Winning Assistive Technology
eSight is an all-in-one, award-winning assistive technology, that is used daily by thousands of visually impaired individuals. Clinically validated and endorsed by vision specialists, eSight helps users to:
- Improve distance visual acuity
- Retain 100% mobility
- Perform distant, intermediate, or close-range tasks
- Improve contrast up to 12 letters
- Improve quality of life
eSight offers mobility, ease of use, a simple home evaluation, coaching, and support. You can also join eSightTogether – a community for people with low vision to connect, share and explore resources. Read more about how eSight’s vision-enhancing electronic glasses have changed the lives of thousands of people living with visual impairments and legal blindness.
2. OrCam MyEye
OrCAmMyEye is a voice-activated device that can be attached to any pair of glasses. OrCam MyEye conveys visual information audibly, in real-time and offline. This device also helps the user to recognize people and perform other daily activities with ease through audio support. This device will not improve a person’s vision.
3. Voice Over
Voice Over is a gesture-based screen reader from Apple. With this app, the user can access their MacIntosh or iOS device using spoken descriptions or keyboard strokes. This helps users understand what is happening on their screen, such as identifying a caller, checking phone battery levels, weather alerts, and so on.
ZoomText is a magnification and screen reading software that can magnify computer screens and read text on the screen back to you. It is ideal for people who work on computers because it can help users read emails, webpages, or documents.
5. ZoomText Keyboard
ZoomText Keyboard is a large-print, high-contrast keyboard that makes typing easier for people with visual impairments. The keyboard also provides quick access functions to ZoomText features.
6. Hovercam Solo 8 Plus
HoverCam Solo 8 Plus Document Camera is a high-resolution video camera that can record videos for hours, capture photos, and function as a microscope. It can be especially helpful in the classroom setting for students with visual impairments.
7. Monocular Handheld Telescope
Monocular handheld telescopes are suitable for quick spot viewing of distant objects, such as street signs, bus numbers, and house numbers. They come in magnification powers of 4x, 6x, and 8x. However, note that the greater the magnifying power, the smaller the field of vision.
8. Visiobook HD
Visiobook HD is a portable HD video magnifier that can be used for learning, reading, and working. It is extremely lightweight, portable, and produces high-quality images.
9. Ruby Portable Magnifier
The Ruby Portable Magnifier is a hand-held video magnifier with a 5-inch LCD screen that offers 2x–14x magnification. It comes with a built-in reading stand and is ideal for reading books, newspapers, magazines, labels, and viewing photographs.
10. Clearview + Speech
Clearview + Speech uses a combination of video magnification and text-to-speech conversion to make reading easier. With this device, you can enlarge materials and change the contrast for a more comfortable viewing. The speech feature can be activated by touching the screen to listen to books, articles, and magazines.
What are the best low vision glasses?
The best low vision glasses offer high magnification power and a generous field of vision to help people with low vision read standard print easily. These include bifocals, prismatic glasses, magnifying reading glasses, and bioptic telescopic glasses.
Which device is very useful for a person with low vision?
All-in-one assistive technology, such as eSight, can be very useful for people with low vision. eSight has helped users with over 20 serious eye conditions, including Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, Retinitis Pigmentosa, and others, to improve their vision.
How do you treat low vision?
Treatment for low vision differs by eye condition, although some conditions cannot be cured, only managed. For example, low vision devices like eSight can help people with vision loss to make the best use of their remaining sight.
How do you get prescribed low vision aids?
An eye care specialist can diagnose low vision by examining your eye and using tools like lighting, magnification, and eye charts to determine its condition. If the tests confirm that your visual acuity is 20/40 or less, your visual field is 20 degrees or less, or you have one or more functional complaints related to reduced vision, the specialist may prescribe you low vision products.
What are some low vision aids?
Some examples of low vision aids are magnifiers, reading glasses, video magnifiers, screen readers, portable electronic magnifiers, and assistive technology such as eSight.