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What Type of Low Vision Device is Best for Me?

In the world of low vision devices there are almost as many options as there are people with low vision. SAGE Vision Technology, Inc. handles 35 electronic magnification devices from closed circuit television (CCTVs) to small hand-held portable units to scanner-based reading systems. Some are in color, some in black and white, some with large screens, some with small screens. Which one is best for you? The answer to this question is dependent on two connected but different parameters: your relative remaining vision and your task. In other words, how well can you see and what do you want to do?

If your vision is declining due to age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and your desire is to do basic reading (mail, bills, checkbook, newspaper) then a CCTV is the best device for you. Typically, these devices involve a computer type screen and a movable tray table. They come in various screen sizes (14 to 21 inches) and are either black and white or in color or both. The decision as to size of screen and black and white versus color will depend on your vision and what you want to read. Generally, the large screen devices are reserved for people whose vision is 20/400 or worse. People who have an interest in color photographs, catalogs, or magazines usually choose color units. Remember, the color units also present text in black and white and most units have the ability to change foreground and background colors to enhance your ability to read. Often, black and white units have a higher level of contrast and brightness due to the lack of having to balance color, tint, and hue. The cost range of a typical CCTV is from $1400 to $3000.

If your usable vision is 20/200 or better and you desire portability, one of the smaller devices or even may be to your liking. A mouse type device can be connected to your TV at a cost of less than $500 to provide adequate reading enjoyment. However, these devices are more difficult to use than a CCTV and almost impossible to use for writing. Portable, battery operated devices with their own screens can be indispensable for a student or someone who wishes to travel. The typical screen size on these units ranges from 4" to 12" and may be too small for someone with limited vision. The price range of these portable units is between $800 and $2500.

The final grouping of low vision devices falls into the category of distance viewing. Flex-arm devices are primarily for distance viewing, but may be used for reading. The camcorder style, which looks like a small video camera, is really designed as a mobility product. You would use this device to spot the street sign or the bus number as you are walking. The price range for these head mounted devices as well as the camcorder style is between $1000 and $2500.

With the myriad of devices available, it is important to match your vision with your needs and choose the device that works best for you. And, don't forget local service and support from the supplier. You need somebody who will come to your home and assist you if you should require help. This might be the most important consideration of all! At SAGE Vision Technology, Inc., this is our Trademark!