Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions about Magnifiers:
Which Magnifiers Work Best?
There is no such thing as a universal magnifier – just like shoes – different ones for different purposes. It all depends on the purpose you want to use it for or the problem you want to solve.
- A watchmaker and jeweller
- Embroidery and stitch work
- A geologist or botanist
- Examining printing plates
- Improve low vision
- Examine small samples
- Enlarge small print or objects
As a general rule, the stronger the magnification the smaller the lens, e.g. A 100 mm diameter lens will only have a maximum magnification of 2.5X times depending on the material it is made from whereas the size of an 8X magnifying lens drops down to 35mm and will be quite thick.
Good bright lighting is very important to improve the ability to see things clearer e.g. increasing the brightness of a light bulb by replacing it with a higher power. That is why many of the new generation magnifiers are now available with LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) built into them. The more light the clearer the image i.e. stronger lighting usually results in improved vision. Often, the brightness of the light can relate to the magnification needed.
The benefit of a magnifier with a larger lens, between90mm-110mm in diameter allows for a wider field of vision but the magnification is limited to around 2X times. As magnification increases the diameter of the lens decreases, thus reducing the field-of-vision and requiring the user to work closer to the object being magnified. In a single lens magnifier, distortion around the edge will also occur.
Which magnifier is best for my needs?
That depends on what you want to achieve. Without going into educational or professional uses, most magnifiers are supplied to people that want to improve their sight for reading or for hobby work. Magnifiers for professional and educational requirements will be covered further on.
Should I select a magnifier with the highest power?
Not necessarily so. You have to consider these factors. Remember, the higher the magnification the shorter the focal distance. The higher the power the closer you have to get to your subject. For magnification power of 10X your working distance is only 25.6 cm (1 inch). At that power there is a lot of peripheral distortion and the field of view is extremely small. To get good high magnification without those problems you need to use a digital magnifier or magnifiers that have compound lens systems e.g. Microscopes, telescopes etc.
Are these new illuminated magnifiers with LED any good?
The new LED’s are very reliable, give better and brighter light and can be made extremely small. Because of this they are very light and can be built into the magnifier’s body so as not to protrude or obstruct in the magnifiers function. The difference in price for an LED illuminated magnifier is well worth the investment as they are very cost efficient.
Because the LED uses such little power, many magnifiers use the tiny button batteries which often last for hundreds of hours. These batteries are usually available from the torch kiosk in supermarkets or from hardware and general stores.
What is power?
Power refers to how much larger an object is made when looking through a magnification lens. Power is typically indicated by an “X” (times) such as 2X or 4X (2 times or 4 times).
What is meant by Times, Dioptre and Working Distance?
Times (X) refers to the number of times a magnifier enlarges what is being looked at: hence ‘2X’ doubles the size, ‘6X’ enlarges the subject by six times it original size etc.
Dioptre (D) refers to power of the lens and is the measurement used in optical systems e.g. spectacle lenses are measured in dioptres. There is no exact relationship between Times and Dioptres – see table.
Working Distance (WD) refers to the distance at which a person reads or does close work.
As a general rule the magnification strength decreases as the lens size gets bigger i.e. the larger the lens the lower the magnification and the converse also applies i.e. the smaller the lens the higher the power.
What is the relationship between Times, Dioptre and Working Distance?
There is an international trend to have magnifier magnification termed in Dioptres rather than times (X). The table below will provide a quick approximation to their times (X) power and focal length.
This is approximately the magnification observed when a person with normal vision holds the magnifying glass close to the eye.
5.56cm (2 1/4”)
20.00cm (7 3/4”)
16.67cm (6 1/2”)
3.57cm (1 1/2”)
6.25cm (2 1/2”)
What are the advantages of Acrylic Magnifying lenses?
I am having trouble reading, what shall I do?
If this is becoming of real concern to you, make an appointment to see your Optometrist or eye specialist to have your vision checked out. You may just need reading glasses or you may have something more serious. Your sight is the most important of your sensors so it is crucial that you have your eyes checked by an expert because the problem could indicate that something more serious is happening. Also keep in mind that most serious sight problems are not detected by simply testing with a standard eye chart on the wall. The old maxim “if in doubt check it out” applies absolutely when it comes to your sight – it’s not worth risking.
How can magnifiers help low vision?
For example, as we grow older it is inevitable that our sight changes, we may need reading glasses or have cataracts or even macular degeneration just to mention three of common dilemmas. Some of these problems can be overcome by a magnifying aid albeit just a simple pair of read glasses and some cannot. If you have not had your eyes checked out recently by and optometrist or eye care specialist then do that first.
If your low vision is the result of macular degeneration (ARMD) we recommend you make this connection with Macular NZ http://www.mdnz.org.nz/ as their website is loaded with very useful information.
How do you judge quality?
Many factors make up a quality magnifier. These can be its clarity; special lens coating such as scratch resistance and anti-reflective treatments, its distortion factor its weight and refractive index of the material being used. A well as these factors the curves of the lens also plays a big part in its quality as well as the system of manufacture. It is very difficult for a lay person to know what to look for when judging quality. The reputation of the brand/supplier is always a good clue to its quality. A good quality brand or supplier will unconditionally guarantee the excellence of their product.
Also keep in mind that the difference between the very best quality and ones that are of a high quality is often quite small and cannot normally be singled out by the lay person. A poor quality magnifier will not ruin your sight, it just doesn’t give a distortion free image.
What magnifier would you recommend for my parent who has macular degeneration?
You need to start with knowing what he is already using. Sometimes a stronger powered magnifier will help and sometimes it may be just a stronger reading lamp that’s required. Try the stronger lamp first then think about a magnifier that’s stronger than the one he is using. It is a medical condition and it comes down to getting good advice from a professional eyecare specialist. There is no easy answer unfortunately because there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution
The new digital magnifiers provide the best variety of useful option as they have a range of magnifications and method of displaying text e.g. black lettering on a white background, the reverse, white letters on a black background and sometimes other letter colour combinations. They will also magnifier pictures and some do it in the picture’s colours.
What is the Macular?
Why promote magnifiers on-line for ARMD?
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