By: Sylvia Stein | Posted: April 2, 2015 | Updated: April 17, 2023
Reading under poor lighting conditions is a common problem, not only for reading menus, but also for reading in bed, or seeing small type in a poorly lit space. What is needed is some type of lighted magnifier.
There are four categories of solutions for this common problem. The pro’s and con’s of each solution are detailed below, as well as in the individual product listings we link to below.
The categories we discuss are:
a Magnifier with a Light (which includes a LED illuminator);
Magnifying Glasses with Light;
an Illuminating Magnifying Glass App for Smart Phones;
and finally a work-around solution.
A Handheld LED Lighted Magnifier
There are numerous examples of a handheld magnifying glass with a built-in LED light, which illuminate the area being magnified. These work well for reading menus or paying the bill at a restaurant, for example. They are also handy for reading small type in a darkened space: a serial number on an appliance for example.
These LED Magnifiers are relatively inexpensive. There are pros and cons to the different formats (detailed below), so if this is persistent problem it might make sense to purchase two or three of these Lighted Magnifiers.
One rule to keep in mind is that the smaller the area of the magnifying glass, the higher the magnification. For this reason, most handheld magnifiers are quite small, with a 3X magnification (3 times the size of the original type). The UltaOptix, which magnifies 4X, and is quite portable, is an exception.
The LED lights included in these devices are of varying brightness. Some do not light up the full area of the magnification while others are as bright as a pinpointed flashlight. Most of the LED lights are long-lasting (up to 100,000 hours!) and thus do not require a new battery.
Compare the Sizes: Menu Readers
Magnifying Glasses with a Light
This is a fun, hands-free option which comes in a range of standard prescription strengths (1.0, +1.5, +2.0, +2.5 or +3.0). The LED light is bright, however, the batteries only last ~ 50 hours. They are also often used for reading in bed.
If you usually carry and use a smartphone, and are comfortable navigating apps, then Eye Reader by NetSoft is a very low cost ($1.99) example of a lighted magnifer app, which has proven popular among the Longevity Explorers.
The lighting is very bright, and you can dim or brighten the LED light by swiping one finger left or right on phone screen. Further, it is easy to zoom in on the image (by placing two fingers on the screen and separating them) to get just the magnification you need.
If none of these options will work for you there is another solution, but it requires that you have a computer accessible, and it takes a little bit of planning. Most restaurants post their menus online: either on their own website, or on a website called menupages.com. If you look at the menu before go out, and decide what you want to order, you won’t have worry about the lighting at the restaurant itself. If you combine this work-around with your favorite way to magnify the type on your computer screen, reading menus, even small and faint type, is easy.
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Sylvia Stein is an experienced veteran of brand consulting with an emphasis on ideation and innovation; as such she brings a fresh perspective to every project and client engagement. Building on her solid, 25-year background in developing new concepts and products, she reinvents processes and crafts ideas that inspire transformative innovation. Sylvia is currently an independent consultant and founder of Venture Concepts, which brings breakthrough ideas together with visionary teams to launch new product concepts in a wide range of product categories. From 1991 to 2004, Sylvia served as President and Founding Partner of Consumer Eyes, Inc., a New York–based new product/innovation consulting company specializing in identifying consumer insights and trends and leveraging them into strategic, yet innovative new product concepts. At Consumer Eyes, Sylvia spearheaded a Consumer Immersion model of concept development. Partial list of Consumer Eyes Clients: Coca Cola, Unilever, The Campbell’s Soup Company, Kraft, Pfizer (Warner Lambert), Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Clorox, Hasbro, Schering-Plough Corporation, Motorola. Sylvia is also a founding partner of BuzzBack, an online market research platform and service that engages the consumer in novel ways and utilizes the full potential of Web-based interaction (data collection, data mining, and data delivery) to reveal new levels of insight and learning for its clients. Earlier in her career, Sylvia was Creative Director at Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, and a project executive with Gerald Schoenfeld, Inc. in Tarrytown. She is a graduate of Harvard University.