Grandfather reading with his granddaughter

Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, once said that she never loved to read until she feared losing her ability to do it. Many seniors who have deteriorating vision may feel the same way. The risk of vision loss increases significantly with age, and seniors may find that activities, like reading, that were once simple have now become a struggle. Fortunately, there are a handful of useful tools that can help the visually impaired to read more easily:

1. Reading Lamp

Proper lighting can have a big impact on readability. Though natural light is best, sometimes it’s not an option, and reading lamps can be a great alternative. Natural daylight lamps can recreate the effect of sunlight, and magnifying lamps can combine brightening light with a magnifying glass, to help you get a closer look at a text.

2. E-Reader

Not only are e-readers portable and easy to use, but they can also be easier to read than a regular book for a variety of reasons. E-readers often have large screens and the settings allow you to adjust both brightness and font size according to your needs.

3. Light Wedge

A light wedge is a flat acrylic sheet, connected to a lamp. The sheet lays flat on your page of text, and the lamp projects an even layer of light across the entire page. The light isn’t harsh or overwhelming, and its uniform distribution of light makes it preferable to clip on book lights.

4. Magnifier Sheet

The magnifier sheet is a lightweight and inexpensive alternative to more technological reading tools. They are durable and flexible sheets of acrylic that you can hold over a book or magazine and easily magnify the text beneath. These are great for carrying in a bag or purse, keeping near your cookbooks or newspaper, or simply tucking into a book or magazine for easy access.

5. Apps

For those who prefer smart phone and tablet apps, the Magnifying Glass Flashlight app works like a handheld magnifying lamp, allowing you to brighten and magnify the text beneath your phone. When you’d rather not strain to read, the Google Text-to-speech app converts PDF files, MS Word documents, and e-books into spoken words.

6. Large Print Publication

If you like to read magazines or newspapers, there are a few publications that offer large print options. Both the New York Times and Reader’s Digest offer special-order large print versions for delivery, and many media websites are now capable of enlarging text size according to a reader’s needs.


It can be frustrating to face vision impairment, but thanks to modern tools like these, you can find ways to still enjoy the texts you love.