OPTICAL DEVICES FOR DISTANCE VIEWING
By: Carmen Willings
Updated November 8, 2015
Low vision devices for distance viewing will allow students with low vision to access information in the distance. This can be helpful in the classroom as well as in the community. Portable distance devices will allow students to view street signs, building signs, fast food signs, and score boards just to name a few.
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Students can be taught to use their prescribed distance optical devices to complete short-term distance tasks such as viewing directories in office buildings, menus in fast food restaurants, signs in grocery store aisles, information presented on the class board, information on smart boards, and classroom charts. They can also be used during O&M lessons to view house numbers and street signs. A low vision specialist will prescribe these to students who can benefit from their use and take into account the student’s unique visual needs.
Hand Held Monocular
A monocular is a small telescope that is great for spotting information at a distance. Hand Held Monoculars provide power up to 14x. They are hand-held, but there are also models that can be mounted to a pair of glasses. They are small in size and can fit into a pocket or purse. They are helpful in spotting information such as information on the board, demonstrations, bus numbers, street signs, fast food restaurant menus, and scoreboards but they do restrict the visual field and limit the student to just one free hand. They are helpful in recreational settings to view theater and sporting events. The best use of telescopes and monoculars is to view information and presentations and not for note taking as copying while using the monocular is very exhausting. Students should be encouraged to take the monocular to other school events (e.g. assemblies, film presentations, games, field trips, etc.). When a student is using a telescope to read the chalkboard, they will need to sit at a specific distance based on the power and quality of the device. This distance along with the specifications of the use of the device, would be included in the report from the Low Vision Specialist. Keep in mind that it is difficult to copy work from the board as the student would need to continuously shift their gaze and scan to locate information.
Binoculars are used for short term distance viewing when students have vision in both eyes and can fuse an image. They can provide a larger field and make it easier to find targets, but are larger and heavier than monoculars and much more conspicuous.
Spectacle Mounted Telescopes
Telescopes of up to 8x magnification can be fitted into spectacle frames or clipped onto the users own spectacles. These are not intended to be used when traveling as they have a very restricted field of view. They are intended to help users read sheet music, watch TV, and view other information when in a seated position.
These telescopes differ than the above as they allow the user to walk and otherwise travel safely when using them. The top has an “auto focus” so that objects viewed will automatically come into focus regardless of the distance.