Optical low-vision hardware: what’s currently available

Optical devices are commonly prescribed as part of a comprehensive low-vision evaluation in clinics throughout the UK and can improve quality of life in people with visual impairment.

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Abstract

Despite recent advances in electronic low-vision aids and technology such as tablet computers, optical low-vision aids remain the most commonly prescribed aids in low-vision clinics across the UK. Apart from the obvious advantage that a majority are available at no charge to the patient on extended loan from the National Health Service, there is support from the literature suggesting that optical aids improve reading ability and quality of life. Various different types of optical aids are available for the low-vision practitioner to prescribe and these fall into various categories: magnifiers, which include hand and stand magnifiers; spectacle magnifiers, which include high dioptric power reading glasses or near adds in bifocal glasses (above +4.00D); telescopes or binoculars; and prisms for expansion of the field of vision. This article aims to apprise the practitioner of recent advances linked to optical low-vision aids, mainly from these four categories, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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