Advanced Digital Magnifiers Mean More Independence for Those with Low Vision

Lions Low Vision Center of Fairfield & New Haven Counties offers more options for adaptive and assistive devices free of charge, improving quality of life.

Low vision, typically resulting from age-related eye disease, is one of the most common conditions of later life. When someone's vision can no longer be corrected with surgery, pharmaceuticals, glasses or contact lenses, yet they are not legally blind, they are considered to have low vision. People living with low vision are likely to experience restrictions in their independence, particularly in self-care, with increased risk of falls, fractures and injuries as well as issues with mental health and cognitive abilities — all of which can lead to social isolation.

Though there are many adaptive and assistive devices available today to help manage daily living activities, these devices are often not covered by health insurance.

Occupational Therapist Dr. Leslie Prescott (right) trains her patient to use CCTV technology for reading and writing to compensate for vision loss. Photo Courtesy of Griffin Health

Thankfully, Lions Low Vision Center of Fairfield & New Haven Counties (LVC) offers 200+ varieties of devices for patients to take home free of charge. Working in partnership with health care facilities, specially trained Occupational Therapists meet with patients to evaluate their daily lifestyle and recommend the specific adaptive and assistive devices that are best suited to each individual. Items such as magnifiers, lamps, talking watches and clocks, measuring cups with large numbers, oversized universal remote controls, sewing needle threaders, big button speakerphones, jumbo seven-day pill reminders and more provide LVC patients with the welcomed opportunity to go through daily routines with greater independence.

"We currently provide quality devices free of charge to our patients," says LVC's Tom DePalo. "These devices have adequately worked for patients in the past, but technology is changing, and we would like to offer more advanced devices to patients that would get more benefit from these types of devices." For example: advanced digital magnifiers, which allow increased magnification at the touch of the dial; and closed circuit television (CCTV) magnifiers — state-of the-art desktop machines that enable printed materials (newspapers, books, etc.) to be placed under a camera which projects a magnified image onto a TV screen or computer monitor.

Thanks in part to recent funding from The Community Foundation, LVC will now be able to increase its inventory of such advanced options, and better meet the needs of the community. In late 2021 and early 2022, The Foundation’s Board of Directors awarded multi-year funding to several nonprofit organizations that serve people with visual impairments in Greater New Haven, including LVC — made possible by funds established decades ago, in which donors state a preference that grants be made specifically for the benefit of the visually impaired. (Learn more about the funds and the grants.)

"Without The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, we could not be able to move in such a positive direction," says DePalo. "Thank you, CFGNH!"

Learn more about Lions Low Vision Center of Fairfield & New Haven Counties.

Do you have a long-term interest in supporting local health care nonprofits or other causes you care about? Learn about charitable funds at The Community Foundation.