At some time in our lives most of us are faced with print that is too small to read. A frequent question we get asked is “how strong a magnifying glass do I need” to read a book, newspaper, pill bottle, contract or map? For most people, a simple & inexpensive hand held magnifying glass is all you need.
What Can’t I Read?
Can’t read the finest print on a contract but you can at least tell there are words in the first eye chart paragraph? Then it’s most likely the weakest & cheapest magnifier you can buy will be enough.
If you struggle to read the largest print in the bottom paragraph of the chart below, you’ll need a stronger magnifier but most likely not as strong as you think.
So What Magnification Do I Need?
The macula has the highest density of cone cells in in your eye & is what you use to read. Your peripheral vision uses rod cells for seeing motion, like a baseball that’s about to hit you.
Think of magnification in terms of how much area your macula is using to see something. A 2X magnifier expands a word so that it uses twice the area, i.e. twice as many cone cells. This might not seem like much but it should make most or all of the paragraphs above comfortably readable.
The largest (4″/100mm) magnifier in the picture above magnifies the least but it means you can scan a larger area like a map & see more adjacent streets without moving the magnifier. The smallest hand magnifier (2″ 50mm) should be enough for fine print in contracts or pill bottle instructions.
If you have some form of eye disease like macular degeneration, you’ll need something stronger. More on that soon.