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Near Task Optical Solutions

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Low Vision Reading Glasses

If you can see print through a magnifier, reading glasses can be made to help you read.

Low vision eyeglasses are the most commonly prescribed low vision aid for reading. Patients often arrive at the low vision examination believing that they have the strongest bifocals or reading eyeglasses available and that new glasses will not help. Doctors who do not specialize in low vision rehabilitation do not prescribe these low vision rehabilitation glasses. They usually prescribe reading glasses or bifocals in powers up to +2.50 to +3.50 Diopters. These powers will not work for a person who is considered to have low vision.

Doctors who specialize in low vision rehabilitation prescribe special reading glasses and bifocal lenses in powers up to +80 Diopters. Rarely do patients need that much power for reading.

Advantages of low vision reading glasses:

  • Hands-free to hold reading material

  • Widest field of view—this will help with speed reading

  • Cosmetically acceptable—resembles regular glasses

  • Good for prolonged reading

Hand and Stand Magnifiers

Magnifiers come in many styles and powers, and are useful for reading or performing other near tasks. It is common to hear patients say that they have tried magnifiers in the past and that they simply do not work. Using the wrong power magnifier is similar to wearing the wrong prescription in your eyeglasses, you will not see clearly. A good selection of magnifiers can only be found in a low vision resource center or at a low vision eye doctor's office. Here the correct power magnifier needed to perform a task is determined and the patient is taught how to use the magnifier correctly. Keep in mind, the stronger the magnifier, the smaller the lens of the magnifier. To read easily and with greater speed, most magnifiers should be held close to the eye. Most people with low vision need good direct light when reading. Therefore, an illuminated magnifier is a good choice.

Advantages of a hand or stand magnifier:

  • Conventional, inexpensive low vision aid

  • Allows a greater working distance than most reading glasses

  • Portable for easy use in public

  • Stand type magnifiers that rest on a page are great for people with hand tremors or arthritis


Spectacle or eyeglass mounted telescopes can be made to focus at any working distance. Compared to strong reading glasses, a telemicroscope allows a person to work at a more normal working distance. This can be important when viewing the computer screen, knitting, playing music or when or performing any task that is uncomfortable when done at a close distance. Telemicroscopes are mounted on an eyeglass frame to keep hands free while performing the near task. These glasses are similar to the telemicroscopes that surgeons and dentists use.

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