Handheld magnifiers are generally lighter and more compact than stand magnifiers as they are meant to be held away from the reading surface. Handheld magnifiers offer greater convenience and portability, but often at a cost to illumination and battery life.
By comparison, stand magnifiers are meant to be placed directly on the reading surface, and as a result are often heavier and less easy to move. Stand magnifiers usually feature an enclosure around the lens and a light source that many handheld magnifiers do not, which has the effect of making the magnified area much brighter.
In addition, stand magnifiers usually use larger batteries, and although larger batteries lead to a heavier and bulkier device, they also extend the battery life of the magnifier. Stand and handheld magnifiers both have their advantages. It is important for you and your eye care team to consider which of the two types better suits your needs.
The light provided by illuminated magnifiers can increase the contrast and brightness of the magnified area, making it easier to see. While all of these magnifiers can brighten the reading area, the actual amount of useful light provided, or the illumination, can vary wildly from magnifier to magnifier. The amount of illumination offered by a magnifier is dependent on a number of factors, including the type and strength of the light bulb and the distance between the magnifier and the reading area.
Once the best magnification level and magnifier type (handheld or stand) are determined for your situation, you may want to ask your eye care provider questions about illumination, battery life, light color, weight of the magnifier, and size of the magnified field, in addition to those concerning price, warranty information, and return policy.
Courtesy of Morgan Blubaugh, Lee Huffman, and William Reuschel.