Skip to main content
Home » Our Optometry Clinic » Eye Health Library » Low Vision » Low Vision Aids for Computer Users

Low Vision Aids for Computer Users

Low vision is a condition, often caused by a number of eye diseases which damage parts of the eye, in which individuals have significantly reduced vision. Individuals with low vision have some sight, but usually it is not sufficient to get by in daily life without some assistance. Often they are not able to read, drive, cook or work on a computer without a visual aid. Today there are many low vision aids available on the market to help those with low vision to function independently in performing daily tasks.

Computer use is one activity that often requires assistance and the good news is the technology to aid computer users with low vision is always improving.

Here are some devices and programs on the market to help:

Text Magnifying:

There are a number of ways to enlarge the text on your computer screen in addition to handheld magnifiers.

Via Your Computer Operating System: Both newer generation Windows and Mac operating systems have screen magnifiers built in. These do not have as many capabilities as purchased screen reader programs but for many with mild low vision, they may be sufficient.

Via Browser: When using the Internet most browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer) allow you to change the size of the page or text on the screen to suit your needs. To enlarge the text on a PC simply hold down the Control (“Ctrl”) key on your keyboard and either tap the “+” key or roll the wheel on your mouse. To reduce the size tap the “-” key or turn the mouse wheel in the opposite direction. On a MAC, you press command and shift at the same time along with the “+” or “-” keys.

Additionally, the browser might have a drop down option under the “view” tab that allows you to Zoom the screen in or out or make the text larger or smaller. Keep in mind that if you are using a larger higher quality screen, this will enable you to see bigger and more clearly as well.

Screen magnification programs: there are a number of free and paid software programs that will enlarge the text, picture and images on your computer screen.

Screen Readers and Text to Speech Programs:

There are a number of programs that enable you to “read” what is on the computer without needing to see it – these are designed for people that are totally blind as well. These programs work by scanning the text and icons on a page and converting it to speech which is read aloud. Some of these programs also have a cursor on the page that moves along with the voice.

Up to date Microsoft and Apple operating systems do have simple, built in screen readers but they may be limited. The Chrome browser and Android devices do as well. Nevertheless depending on your abilities, you may prefer to purchase a program with more comprehensive options and usability.

If you are looking for something simpler, text-to-speech programs exist in which you select a portion of the text you want to read and the program reads it for you.

Screen Contrast

Adjusting your screen to the highest contrast will enable the letters and images on the monitor to stand out. Font should be adjusted to achieve a dark text on a light background. Further it is advisable to reduce glare as much as possible. This may require adjusting window shades and indoor lights or even purchasing an anti-glare screen to reduce glare that can’t be eliminated.

Hardware

You can purchase special keyboards, mice and monitor magnifiers made specifically to enhance usability for those with low vision. Purchasing a large LCD screen for your monitor will also help to enhance visibility.
Computers can be a window to open our world to information, connections, work and play. Individuals with low vision can access all of this as well with the assistance of specialized software, devices and programs using the strengths and senses that they do possess.

BIG NEWS!

We’ll soon be “Eyes on Main”! And that’s not the only news... please offer a warm welcome to Dr. Mike Gowen.

From Dr. J:

I opened my office in 1990 – That’s 30 years coming up on August 1st!!   In some ways it feels like yesterday, and in others, like forever.  Along with so much else that has changed this year, one more occasion is on the horizon.  I am excited to announce that I am selling my practice to Dr. Mike Gowen.  Dr. G and his wife, SallyAnn, met at Virginia Tech close to 40 years ago. They have been proud and loud Hokies ever since and dreamed of returning to live in Blacksburg.  Both are strong supporters of the arts, athletics and the civic engagement that make this a very special place to live, work and play!

I am thrilled to be handing the baton to a doctor who believes as I do in community service. Plus, he is laser focused also on individualized patient care, personal and professional intellectual advancement and enjoying the good things and kind people who come along every day.

Better yet, I’m not going anywhere!  I will continue seeing patients, focusing on visual rehab for those suffering from concussions/TBI, working to control the progression and consequences of nearsightedness through orthokeratology and other treatments, and counseling all regarding the inter-relation of the eyes, brain and body, along with the importance of nutrition, exercise and mental well-being.  There’s so much I yet want to learn and do, and now I won’t have to worry about arguing with insurance companies.  I’m excited!

From Dr. G:

It’s impossible to express how pleased I am to be moving to Blacksburg. It has long been the dream of my wife and I to become a part of this unique town, where we met as Virginia Tech students and continued to frequent as alumni.    I look forward to the privilege of serving the people of Blacksburg and bringing my lifetime of experience in the field of eye care to serve one and all. I'm delighted that Dr. Steve Jacobs will remain with the practice, which will now be “EYES on Main.” I consider it a great privilege to continue the exemplary patient care and community service that Dr. Jacobs has and will continue to provide to the New River Valley. Together we will serve the Blacksburg community with the same culture of care and community involvement that has always been a part of this practice.

 More updates to follow.  Send us a message or give us a call with questions, comments, or to set up an appointment.

We can always be reached at 540-953-0136!

Sincerely,Dr. J, Dr. S, Dr. G & staff