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What are Digital Magnifiers?

Digital magnifiers are electronic low vision aids that consist of a camera and screen to provide magnification. As opposed to optical magnifiers which use an optical lens made of glass or plastic. Digital magnifiers can provide higher magnification with a wider field of view than can be achieved with optical magnifiers. In addition, digital magnifiers can be used at a comfortable working distance with the ability to vary magnification to suit different situations, or as vision changes.

Eschenbach produce high quality digital magnifiers designed to improve the quality of life of those using them. Eschenbach’s digital magnifiers have exceptional image quality as well as additional features such as contrast enhancement and reading line guides to further improve reading comfort. Digital magnifiers come in two styles. The portable digital magnifier and the desktop digital magnifier. As you would expect, the portable versions can be taken anywhere and used on the go whereas desktop digital magnifiers are for at home use as they are much larger. 

Eschenbach's Visolux Digital HD viewing a magazine with image being displayed on another larger screen


Why use digital magnifiers?

At Magnifiers Australia and New Zealand we have over 60 years experience with magnification and have demonstrated digital magnifiers to countless patients. When we demonstrate digital magnifiers to patients who have only ever used optical magnifiers the overwhelming response is one of astonishment and “I CAN READ THAT!”. This response is common and is usually both emotional and highly positive for everyone involved.

Optical magnifiers have the advantage of being relatively low cost, portable and simple to use but they do have limitations. Whilst digital magnifiers have multiple functions and features that are beneficial, there are 3 primary features that really set them apart from optical magnifiers.

  1. Digital magnifiers enable a person to increase magnification as their vision worsens or if reading smaller print. Therefore, you don’t require multiple magnifiers as you would if using an optical magnifier; the one digital magnifier will do it all. For example, a person may need 12x magnification to read the instructions on a medicine bottle, but only 6x to read their favourite magazine. A digital magnifier can be precisely adjusted to match the ideal magnification and field of view to suit each circumstance or each person’s vision. Variable magnification is really important for those with a degenerative eye condition. You learn to use the magnifier while your vision is still reasonable and you need a lower magnification but then the same magnifier will allow you to increase the magnification as your vision deteriorates. Generally, people find that this means you maintain your ability to read and your independence for longer than if you were struggling to used a more high-powered optical magnifier once your vision had deteriorated. 
  2. Digital magnifiers allow a user to work at a comfortable working distance regardless of the magnification. When using an optical magnifier, the working distance reduces markedly as you increase the magnification. For example, a 10x optical magnifier needs to be held at approximately 4cm from your eye, which is not easy to maintain for very long and can cause postural problems. The short working distance of higher powered optical magnifiers is one of the main reasons people will give up trying to read. Whereas a digital magnifier giving 10x magnification can be used at any working distance, the ideal working distance is usually around 40cm.
  3. Digital magnifiers have the ability to enhance the contrast of the text being read, which is vitally important in enabling someone to read and to achieve faster reading speeds. This is because the contrast quality of the text we all read varies greatly. For example, newspaper text is usually a dull black on an off white background and is printed on low quality paper, which offers poor contrast. And while magazine text is usually printed on higher quality paper, sometimes the text is in a light colour with a light background, which again produces poor contrast. In both these circumstances a digital magnifier can digitally enhance the text contrast to appear as deep black on a crisp white background that produces excellent contrast. In addition, digital magnifiers can reverse the text and background colours to offer even greater contrast. In the above case this would mean crisp white text on a deep black background. Furthermore, digital magnifiers have the ability to change the colours of the text and background to suit each individual’s preference. For example, some people may prefer yellow text on a black background, or black text on a green background. An optical magnifier cannot do this.

Together these 3 features provide a reading experience that is vastly superior to that offered by optical magnifiers, and are a crucial reason for the overwhelming positive reaction of someone using a digital magnifier for the first time.

Young girl using Eschenbach's Vario Digitial FHD on a desk

Digital magnifiers are complex on the inside, but manufacturers like Eschenbach go to great lengths to ensure they are ergonomically designed and simple to use on the outside. Due to all of the extra features and benefits of digital magnifiers, they do cost more than optical magnifiers, as you would expect. However, you would need multiple optical magnifiers to achieve half of the magnification powers available on a digital magnifier, and still not have the benefits of contrast enhancement or a comfortable working distance. For someone with low vision, a digital magnifier is a vital tool that will be used every single day, bringing them enjoyment and independence. All things considered, digital magnifiers represent outstanding value to users.

Smartlux digital magnifier, viewing a travel declaration form.
Eschenbach digital magnifiers are available in New Zealand from our long standing partner MSO Limited.

MSO was originally established in 1991 and is a NZ owned and operated family business.

They specialise in the distribution of high-tech opticals for low vision eye care as well as magnifying devices for professionals and specialists. They can be contacted on tel:+6498493415 or by email

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