April 2011
Volume 52, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2011
Evaluation Of An iPhone/iPod Based Handheld Magnifier Application For Low-vision Patients
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Savannah E. Baril
    Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Jennifer Wallis
    Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Mary Lou Jackson
    Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Savannah E. Baril, None; Jennifer Wallis, None; Mary Lou Jackson, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2011, Vol.52, 384. doi:
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      Savannah E. Baril, Jennifer Wallis, Mary Lou Jackson; Evaluation Of An iPhone/iPod Based Handheld Magnifier Application For Low-vision Patients. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):384.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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The purpose of this pilot study is to evaluate the utility of an iPhone/iPod basedhandheld magnifier application for low-vision patients.


Patients from the MEEI Vision Rehabilitation Clinic with a BCVA of 20/70 to 20/200 were asked to use both the 3.5X/10D by Optelec illuminated handheld magnifier and the application "Magnifier Free" by Recession Apps on the iPod Touch 4G to complete 5 different tasks: a standardized test of continuous print from very large to small print, finding a telephone number in a phonebook, reading a newspaper paragraph, examining a hand-written check, and reading directions on a prescription bottle. Patients then completed a questionnaire comparing ease or difficultly of use for both devices, preference, ability to see, and comfort level. Patient-specific data such as disease etiology, BCVA, age, gender, racial demographics, and other comorbidities were also recorded.


Six patients (5 male) were enrolled in this pilot study. The average age was 58.5 years (range 30 - 87). Etiology of patients’ low vision included AMD (2), glaucoma (2), optic atrophy (1) and cytomegalovirus retinitis (1). No participant had used an iPhone/iPod before. Four of six (66%) had never used a handheld magnifier. Overall, 2 (33%) participants found the iPod easier to use, and 4 (66%) preferred the handheld magnifier. Five out of six (83%) patients felt more comfortable using the iPod in public. Cost was an important consideration for 3 (50%) of the patients. Subjects reported that the iPod application worked best with low-level magnification (2x), required a motion stabilizer, and would be improved with a centered camera.


Free or inexpensive applications are available for the iPhone/iPod to provide magnification for low-vision patients. Our data suggest that these applications work best with low levels of magnification and would be convenient for patients that own or are familiar with an iPhone or iPod. Evaluation of other magnifying applications is currently being researched. This could lead to the further development of low-vision applications that are available on the iPhone/iPod that are inexpensive, convenient, and easy to use.

Keywords: low vision • contrast sensitivity • reading 

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