Determining magnification for reading with low vision

Ming Yan Cheong, Jan E. Lovie-Kitchin, Alex R. Bowers

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In the past, practitioners have used distance and/or near visual acuity (VA) to calculate required magnification for low vision aids. Magnification was usually under-estimated when compared with the final magnification prescribed. Recent studies have emphasised the importance of acuity reserve in determining the required magnification for optimum reading rate. Two different approaches have been proposed for the appropriate acuity reserve to use in calculating magnification. These are a fixed acuity reserve of 0.3 log unit or an individual determination of optimum acuity reserve. The aim of this study was to investigate the magnification and reading rates with low vision aids selected by the two methods. Methods: Nineteen low vision subjects with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) who were experienced magnifier-users were recruited. Reading rates and near VA with low vision aids determined by the fixed and individual acuity reserve methods were compared with the same measures made with the subjects' own magnifiers. Results: There were no significant differences in reading rate and near VA measured with low vision aids selected by either the fixed or individual acuity reserve methods or the subjects' own magnifiers. Reading rate with low vision aids was not significantly different from reading rate for large print with conventional near additions. Thus, for experienced users, magnifiers do not cause reduced reading rate. Conclusions: The fixed acuity reserve method is simple to apply as only near VA and print size of the target reading task are required. For the individual acuity reserve method, reading rates at different print sizes need to be measured. We recommend the use of a fixed acuity reserve (0.3 log unit) for the calculation of required magnification for low vision patients. If near VA or reading rate are not satisfactory with the magnification calculated by this method, individual assessment of required acuity reserve is necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-237
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Magnification
  • Magnifiers
  • Reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Optometry


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