Handheld Video Magnifiers are very impressive. Some offer zoom magnification ranges like a digital camera does, because they are basically dedicated digital cameras with large LCD screens tailor-made for the needs of those with Low Vision. The continuous zoom magnification offered on a relatively compact Video Magnifier model could be for example, 2x through 16x. range. Others have dual magnification but not a continuous zoom. Some are small and lightweight; others are portable but not really pocketable. There is no question that Handheld Video Magnifiers are versatile and fun to use. However, while affordable by electronics standards, they are more costly than non-electronic magnifiers. Electronic Magnifiers begin at about $150 to $250, on up to many hundreds of dollars.
However, sometimes, for some things, nothing outdoes "simple."
Low Vision generally tends to come to us all as we age, but there are specific conditions which can be the cause, conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), and diabetic retinopathy.
In order to assist those with Low Vision, some sort of magnification technology is required. While Video Magnifiers are truly amazing, there are times when "good enough" really is good enough. And if a "simple" handheld pocket magnifier does the job, then why not use it.
There's a philosophical term, often utilized in science, called Occam's Razor. It is attributed to a Franciscan monk, William of Ockham, who studied Logic back in the 14th century. Translated from Latin, it reads, "More things should not be used than are necessary." He was not referring to physical objects, but rather to assumptions supporting different theories. ["Razor" is meant metaphorically, as in shaving off unnecessary and superfluous explanations, as one shaves off hair.] His Occam's Razor can be viewed as an ancestor of the KISS principle: "Keep It Simple, Stupid."
Pocket Magnifiers could be the poster child of the KISS principle. In their most basic form: a magnifying lens made of convex glass or lightweight acrylic is mounted in some sort of handle or frame. Pocket Magnifying Glasses are available in a wide variety of magnifications, such as 2x, 5x, 10x, 15x, and 20x.
Keep in mind that having the highest magnification doesn't automatically make one magnifier better than another. As the magnification gets larger, the field of view (how much area you can see and read with the magnifier) gets smaller. To examine the fine details on a stamp or coin, you may want 15x or 20x. But for menus and medicine labels, you might prefer something in the neighborhood of 10x. And for reading letters and documents, 2x or 5x might be just right for you.
One appealing advantage of Hand Magnifiers is that they are so affordable that most people find that there's not a moment's hesitation in bringing them everywhere. The obvious advantage of this is that you'll always have one within reach wherever you go, whenever you might need help reading small print.
Hand Magnifiers and Handheld Lighted Magnifiers are great to take with you when you go out to eat at a diner or restaurant and need to read the menu (not to mention the bill after the meal); or when you go shopping and need to read clothing or product labels and price tags; or when you go traveling and need to read maps or train and bus schedules.
Their relative affordability makes them the preferred magnifying device to use where liquid or impact damage is most likely, as their replacement cost is modest. For example, liquid-hazardous environments such as the beach, pool, or bathtub; and impact-hazardous trips on a jostling bus or train. And if your Handheld Pocket Magnifier gets lost or damaged, it's good to know that it won't break the bank to replace it. For those with low vision, this may be the most important thing to always have in your pocket or pocketbook besides your wallet or purse, and almost as necessary as whatever medication you need to keep at hand.
Pocket Magnifiers come in two basic flavors, Handheld Illuminated Magnifiers with an LED light and Non-illuminated Handheld Magnifiers. Both have their pros and cons.
The main benefit of Handheld Lighted Magnifiers is that they make reading much easier when the ambient light is dim, such as in a restaurant. Handheld Illuminated Magnifiers are also extremely helpful for those individuals whose eyesight has lost light sensitivity.
The advantages of Handheld Magnifiers without a light are that they are a bit lighter, sometimes smaller, and generally a little less expensive.
Regardless, of which you choose to make your constant companion, it is likely to be, in the words of a classic movie, "the beginning of a beautiful friendship."