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WHAT MAGNIFIER WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR MY FATHER, WHO HAS ADVANCED MACULAR DEGENERATION?

There are varying degrees of macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and many helpful articles about it online and elsewhere. The macula is a tiny area in the middle of the retina, which helps you to see objects directly in front of the eye. When the cells in the macula are damaged it is called macular degeneration and means that objects in the middle of your vision start to look distorted or blurred.

We are often asked which magnifier is best for people with this condition but different people are affected in different ways: there is no 'one size fits all' solution. We always recommend that you seek professional advice from your local optometrist or eye clinic.

However we recognise that this is not always practical: maybe you cannot travel easily to your local optician or perhaps you are trying to find a magnifier for an older relative with macular degeneration who lives far away. For such reasons many people really do want us to make some kind of recommendation so we hope the following advice is of some assistance.

In general terms we find that magnifiers with LED illumination tend to be most helpful to people with macular degeneration. We presume this is because the extra bright white light best helps create contrast so that text is highlighted more clearly. Again we would emphasise that nothing can beat an on-the-spot assessment but if you do wish to purchase from us then we have a wide range of LED options, of which the Eschenbach Mobilux LED, COIL Autotouch and COIL LED ranges are all highly regarded for their excellent build quality and superb optics.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN IT SAYS 2x, 3x, 6x ETC ALONGSIDE A MAGNIFIER?

This refers to the number of times a magnifier enlarges the subject matter: hence '2x' enlarges it to twice its size, '6x' enlarges to six times the subject size. Magnification strength or 'power' is determined by the amount of curvature of the lens, which in turn governs the size and focal length - the distance at which the magnifier has to be held away from the subject matter for it to be effective.

As a general rule the magnification strength decreases as the lens size gets bigger i.e. the larger the lens the lower the magnification. Some magnifiers are stronger than others. For example a high-precision jewellers loupe could offer 20x magnification from a tiny lens whereas a page-size magnifying sheet might only offer about 2x magnification.

YOU HAVE MANY PRODUCTS WITH LED ILLUMINATION. WHAT IS 'LED'?

An LED (light emitting diode) is an electronic light source with very high brightness. LEDs are used in everyday products like torches, headlights and bicycle lamps as well as magnifiers. They have many advantages over traditional light sources including lower energy consumption, longer life, improved robustness, smaller size and faster switching. The power generated by such a small device makes it ideal for use in magnifiers because the brighter white light has the effect of increasing contrast between text and background, which can be very helpful to people with reduced vision.

WHAT IS A FRESNEL LENS?

Fresnel lenses were named after the 19th century Frenchman, Auguste-Jean Fresnel (it's pronounced 'fre-nel'), who realised that a lens only needs one curved surface to gather and bend light. He devised a flat lens with a series of fine concentric grooves, individually angled to help direct and focus light towards the central part of the lens. Originally his lenses were used in lighthouses, where a strong but not particularly high-quality beam of light was required, but nowadays they are more commonly found in traffic lights, theatre lights, projectors and everyday plastic magnifying sheets.

Users of such magnifying lenses face some compromise between convenience and image quality. They come in any size from credit card to page-size or bigger for a wide field of view; they are relatively inexpensive; they are lightweight and they are easy to store in a bag or in a book. Though they are handy and helpful the overall clarity of the image is not as good as standard glass or acrylic lenses, which offer better transparency and less distortion around the edges.

Sheet magnifiers are popular and we offer the most comprehensive range. Fresnel lenses can also be found on hands-free models like our Desktop Magnifier and Sheet Magnifier on Flexi-Arm.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PLASTIC AND GLASS LENSES?

The optical qualities are very similar but there are some physical differences. Plastic, usually acrylic lenses are much lighter, shatterproof and very durable. Glass lenses are more stain and scratch-resistant and allow very high light transmission. All magnifiers used to be made with glass lenses but plastic lenses are manufactured far more widely now.

WHAT MAGNIFICATION STRENGTH IS BEST FOR ME?

We know it is tempting to look for a magnifier with the highest strength but it really depends on what you need a magnifier for. Higher magnifications of 10x and upwards may be invaluable for acute low vision or for microscopic detail but most users will probably find magnification strengths between 2x and 7x to be adequate.

Some people like to have more than one to cover different magnification tasks. For example you might find a large 2x hand-held magnifier would be enough for everyday reading but a more powerful 5x illuminated model might be needed for fine print, food labels and financial tables. Add in your coin-collecting hobby and that old watch you keep meaning to fix and a more powerful 10x loupe might also become quite useful.

CAN YOU SUPPLY 500 CREDIT CARD MAGNIFIERS PRINTED WITH MY COMPANY LOGO FOR A PROMOTION?

Yes. Please refer to our Business Gifts section for guideline pricing and artwork requirements. Magnifiers are ideal for giveaways and promotions because they have a high-perceived long-term value so they are rarely thrown away. This means that your brand, logo or message will be visible to the recipient for many months or years to come.

DO YOU SUPPLY REPLACEMENT BULBS?

These are available for some illuminated magnifiers, magnifier lamps and task lamps though LED models do not need spare bulbs because the LED light lasts almost indefinitely.

MY GRANDMOTHER'S FAVOURITE MAGNIFIER IS BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR; SHE HAS HAD IT FOR YEARS AND CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT IT. CAN YOU HELP?

We probably can. To help us identify if the model still exists please tell us what it looks like, the lens diameter and if there are any markings or references on the body. If it no longer exists please don't worry because newer lens technology and advances in product design mean we will probably be able to help you find an even better one.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST HAND-HELD MAGNIFIER?

We have two hand-held magnifiers with 5-inch/125mm diameter lenses: our Jumbo Magnifier or Jumbo LED Magnifier.

I FIND IT DIFFICULT TO HOLD A MAGNIFIER; DO YOU HAVE ONE THAT RESTS ON THE PAGE?

We suggest either our Brightfield Dome Magnifier or Bar Magnifier. These are 'flat field' magnifiers that sit directly on the page. Made from clear acrylic, they attract plenty of ambient light to make reading more comfortable. You might also wish to consider our Eschenbach Vario Plus, a superior quality illuminated hand-stand magnifier with a lens that can be either hand-held or rested on the page if required. If you choose one of these please remember to order handle and lens separately. We would recommend the LED handle for best results.

WHAT IS A GOOD MAGNIFYING GLASS WITH A LIGHT SOURCE AND HIGH MAGNIFICATION FOR DELICATE ELECTRONICS WORK?

How about our Desktop Magnifier Lamp, which incorporates a miniature 4x spot lens for fine detail inside a large 1.75x glass lens? It has a daylight bulb to simulate natural light and is ideal for projects where you may need both hands free.

WHICH MAGNIFIER WOULD BE MOST SUITABLE FOR A 7-YEAR OLD CHILD LOOKING AT INSECTS?

We would recommend our COIL 'Windsor' Magnifier, which is a hand-held magnifier made from a single piece of clear shatter-resistant plastic. It's a robust item that is frequently used in schools and will not be damaged too badly if knocked or left out in the rain.

I RECENTLY ORDERED THE EXCELLENT MEGAVIEW HEADLOUPE. IT CAME WITH 1.7x AND 2.0x LENSES BUT THE INSTRUCTIONS MENTION A 3.0x LENS. IS ONE MISSING?

The Megaview instructions do mention an additional 3.0x lens but to help keep the cost down the item itself is supplied with just two lenses (as per our web description). The 3.0x lens can be purchased separately as an additional item if required.

WHAT IS THE STRONGEST HAND-HELD MAGNIFYING GLASS YOU STOCK? I NEED SOMETHING FOR LOOKING AT OLD PHOTOS.

We have some top-notch hand-held and illuminated magnifiers from COIL and Eschenbach, which magnify up to 12.5x but unless you only wish to examine just a very small section of an image at a time you may be better off settling for a mid-range model with a slightly larger lens offering around 5-7x magnification.

DO YOU SELL GLASS LENSES? I NEED SOME FOR MY ART PROJECT.

We do not sell component lenses, only finished items, but the glass lenses in our Classic Magnifiers can be removed by unscrewing the handle from the metal rim.

CAN YOU SUPPLY A FEW FRESNEL LENSES CUT TO A SPECIAL SIZE FOR AN EXHIBITION?

We are unable to supply special-sized fresnel lenses and it may not such a good idea to cut them. The lens is made up of many concentric circles and the magnification strength is stronger at the centre than around the edges.

MY MOTHER LOVES DOING CROSSWORDS BUT SHE SOMETIMES STRUGGLES TO READ THE CLUES. CAN YOU HELP?

We are impressed by the Scribolux Crossword Magnifier. It has a first-class lens, LED illumination and a pleasing modern design that will not look out of place in any home environment.

CAN YOU DELIVER IN TIME FOR MY MUM'S BIRTHDAY NEXT WEEK?

We will normally despatch your order within three working days but just to cover most eventualities please allow up to 14 days for UK deliveries; 21 days for overseas deliveries. Please contact us first if your requirement is especially urgent and you need to double-check stock availability or wish to ask about faster delivery options (subject to an additional charge).

WHAT PAYMENT OPTIONS DO YOU HAVE?

We offer payment by most debit and credit cards or by personal cheque or postal order in advance of despatch.

CAN I HAVE MY ORDER SENT TO A DIFFERENT ADDRESS?

Yes. During the online order process there is an option to have the goods sent to a different address. The paperwork we enclose does not show pricing so if you are sending the item as a gift the recipient will not see how much money you have spent.

I LIVE IN FRANCE. DO YOU SHIP OVERSEAS?

Yes - we send our magnifiers to customers all over the world. The only exceptions are some heavier or electrical items, which tend not to travel too well. Please also note that there is an extra charge to cover the higher cost of international delivery.

I DO NOT HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME. CAN I ORDER OVER THE PHONE?

Yes. Please call us and we will be happy to enter your order for you.

WHY WAS MY CREDIT/DEBIT CARD NOT ACCEPTED?

We do not know why some card transactions are declined. It is often for no apparent reason. One common reason for card failure on our site is if any spaces are left between the numbers when the card details are entered. If this happens please do try again or check directly with your card company.

I JUST ORDERED A MAGNIFIER FOR 19.95 BRITISH POUNDS. WHAT IS THAT IN AMERICAN DOLLARS?

We can give you an approximate guide on currency issues but the actual amount will vary according to the exchange rate your credit card company is using at the time of transaction.

WHAT OTHER PRODUCTS DO YOU SELL?

We offer a selection of high quality table, floor and portable task lamps because they are very helpful visual aids for reading and other tasks. We also stock beautiful fabric bookmarks and the unique Readezy Bookstand.

I'VE GOT ANOTHER QUESTION NOT COVERED HERE

Please feel free to ask. Over the years we have probably answered more questions about magnifiers than anyone and this normally enables us to provide a same-day email response to your enquiry. We may even add your question to our list of Frequently Asked Questions to help other visitors in the future - so thank you in advance for contacting us!