Magnifiers – helping people with macular degeneration

Shirley was born in Burma and grew up in India before moving to Australia fifty years ago. She’s always led a very active and independent life, but a recent diagnosis of macular degeneration, means she now struggles to see.

Macular degeneration is a common eye disease which can lead to low vision and usually happens later in life.

How to get support

If you have a diagnosis of vision impairment, please contact our friendly team to find out what low vision services and support we can provide to you both now and into the future. Find out what low vision support groups are available, which can connect you with like-minded people to build friendships and offer support.

Enquire about low vision support services

Eighty-three-year-old Shirley came to us on the advice of her eye specialist to investigate our range of magnifiers (link opens in new window). Shirley is totally blind in her left eye and can only see in her right eye.

Shirley standing in kitchen holding a video magnifier
Shirley is investigating a range of magnifiers

“I was in Melbourne visiting my son and went to an optician to have my eyes tested. While there I was told I needed to see a retinal surgeon because my eye was bleeding,” she explains.

Macular degeneration

Some common treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is through therapy drops. These are administered through an injection directly into the eye by an ophthalmologist.

“Unfortunately for me, the injections came a bit too late. I lost both my peripheral vision in my left eye and my confidence. My specialist referred me to VisAbility for some aids to help me.”

Shirley – VisAbility client

Customer Service Officer Ivani runs our VisAbility shop and resource centre in Victoria Park. It offers a wide selection of vision aids and equipment for people living with vision impairment.

Ivani explained the different magnifiers. Shirley wanted a magnifier to help her read the small print on containers and jars. She’d also heard about magnifier glasses, so she could watch television, news documentaries and sport again.

“As my eyes have worsened with macular degeneration, the pictures have become blurrier and distorted. When I want to change channels, I can no longer read the text to switch between them.”


Ivani looked at the options available. Shirley selected a traditional hand magnifier that provides four times the normal magnifying strength. It has inbuilt LED light to provide extra illumination. This will help her to read her microwave and oven dials.

Shirley holding a magnifier to read numbers on her microwave
Shirley wanted a magnifier to read the numbers on her microwave

Optical magnifiers are better for smaller areas of print. They’re ideal for so-called spot reading – like her microwave dials – or looking at bills and receipts.

Shirley was also keen to buy some television glasses to improve her television viewing. These glasses magnify your screen size, so you can see more refined detail. The glasses are hands-free and head-mounted to provide a higher magnification. Each eye lens can be focused separately.

Shirley looks at a tv screen wearing the magnifying glasses
Shirley uses her magnifying glasses
Shirley wears the magnifying glasses for the television
She has a far clearer picture of the screen









While at VisAbility, she also met with Occupational Therapist Katie for a demonstration of electronic visuals aids.

“Video magnifiers are perfect for people with vision impairment because of the additional magnification and the increased field of view they offer to read larger amounts of print.”

Katie – Occupational Therapist

“The high contrast options available at the touch of a button makes the print clearer,” she adds.

“One of the most popular video magnifiers is a touchscreen handheld magnifier which incorporates an eight-inch screen. It’s for people who prefer a large screen but want portability,” explains Katie.

Shirley was impressed with the video magnifier and hopes it will help her to read her recipes and magazines.

iPad features for vision loss

Katie also spent time with Shirley explaining how she could best use her iPad which has a range of features for people with vision loss.

“For example, you can use the camera as a video magnifier. The iPad has plenty of apps to help her read books.”

“I cannot recommend the team at VisAbility highly enough. Ivani was so patient explaining all about them. My magnifiers will be arriving any day now and further down the line, I’d like to purchase a video magnifier as well.”

How to get support

We have a range of specialists and services to support people with vision loss. Please complete the form below to make an initial enquiry about our low vision services and support we can provide. Our Client Experience Team will contact you to discuss your individual needs, both now and into the future.

If you are a provider and wish to refer a client, please use our low vision medical certificate (online referral form) to make your referral.

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