As people grow older, seeing small objects or reading printed material can become more difficult. Others seek to magnify fine print, handwork such as crafts or hobbies, or even an interesting bug in the backyard. A magnifying glass makes small details easier to see, and for individuals with weak eyesight, this tool offers immense value as a reading or desk accessory.
Magnifying glasses come in a variety of forms, including handheld and headset-style models. Some include built in lighting to further assist vision. Finding the best magnifying glass for your needs includes looking at their ease of use, portability, magnification level, intended use, and other characteristics. This list includes some of the top magnifying glasses available.
- BEST OVERALL: MagniPros 3X Large Magnifying Glass
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: (2 Pack) MagniPros Large Full Page 3X Magnifier
- BEST FOR WEAK EYESIGHT: iMagniphy LED Illuminated Magnifying Glass Set
- BEST HEADSET: Dicfeos Headband Magnifier with LED Light
- BEST POCKET: Carson 5X MiniBrite LED Lighted Slide-Out Aspheric Magnifier
- BEST WITH LIGHT: MagniPros 3X Large Ultra Bright LED Page Magnifier
- BEST FOR KIDS: GYANDULY Large Magnifying Glass 5X Handheld Reading Magnifier
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Magnifying Glass
For specific needs, not just any magnifying glass will do. Some users may need a hands-free magnifying glass that allows the use of both hands while doing small tasks. Others want a powerful magnifying glass to help read their favorite novel. A small, simple magnifying glass is suitable for children to explore small insects and leaves in their backyard or on a nature trail. Consider these key points when shopping for the best magnifying glass for your unique needs.
One of the more common types of magnifying glasses, the handheld magnifying glass, is available in varying sizes and styles, from round to rectangular. It may have built-in lights, from a small one that illuminates just enough to read at night to a bright LED light that ensures the best possible view.
Less common options include a mounted magnifying glass and a headset style. A mounted magnifying glass is most suitable for individuals who like to do close handwork, such as sewing or crafts, but don’t want to wear a headset.
Magnification and Lens
When magnifying an object with a lens, the laws of physics apply. Essentially, the smaller the lens, the greater the magnification. This helps ensure a good depth of field, the area in which a magnified object appears in sharp relief under the lens.
Choosing the proper magnification depends on your plans for the magnifying glass. For example, to look at very small objects, like jewelry, consider choosing a loupe with high magnification in the 30X to 50X range or even higher. To read fine print, opt for a magnification of 2X or 3X with a magnifier large enough to cover an entire page of a book or magazine.
Magnifying glasses work best when held at a specific distance from the object they’re magnifying. As the magnification level increases, the distance you must hold the glass from the object decreases. For instance, for a magnification of 10X, hold the magnifying glass about an inch from the object.
Many magnifying glasses deliver their best performance when actually pressed against the object, such as a lens on a printed page.
Field of Vision and Eye Relief
The field of vision is the area you can see clearly while looking through the magnifying glass. For example, at 5X magnification, most objects at 1.5 inches away will be clear. Increase to 10X magnification, and items about 0.6 inches become clear.
Determine the appropriate field of vision to prevent eye strain. Squinting to see an object can lead to headaches and other problems, so choose a magnifying glass that allows you to see an object or fine print without squinting or straining. Test different magnification strengths to determine the one right for your eyes.
In many cases, a lower magnification is ideal for reading fine print, while a higher magnification is required for close handiwork. Keep this in mind when choosing a headset-style or mounted magnifying glass.
Depth of Field
When a magnifying glass is held over an object, the object may move in and out of focus. At too much distance, the focus is lost, but the object is in the sharpest relief possible at one specific point. Look at fine print with a magnifying glass; move the glass toward you, and find the point where the print blurs. This is the depth of field for that particular magnifying glass.
Remember that the greater the magnification, the smaller the lens. That’s why a small loupe might have up to 50X magnification—the equivalent of some high-powered microscopes—but a typical handheld magnifying glass may only have up to 10X magnification, and often less.
Some magnifying glasses are quite simple and don’t include built-in lighting. These magnifying glasses are best for use outdoors or in an area with a great deal of ambient light, such as a chair beside a lamp. To read in bed without disturbing a partner, consider a magnifying glass that offers low lighting, such as a few well-placed LED lights.
However, for those who have weak eyesight or need extra brightness to read without eye strain, look for a magnifying glass with several LED lights along the border. These lights should be on the underside of the magnifying glass, positioned so they illuminate the fine print or object but don’t deliver a glare directly toward your face.
Our Top Picks
Keep reading to find top picks in magnifying glasses for a variety of uses. With the above shopping considerations in mind, choose the best magnifying glass to suit your intended tasks.
This rectangular magnifying glass by MagniPros makes it easier to read a book, magazine, newspaper, or other reading material, thus mimicking the way people naturally read. The lens delivers 3X magnification, which brings even the smallest fine print into focus. Made of optical-grade acrylic, this magnifying glass is scratch-resistant, but it provides the same high-quality view and lack of optical distortion as glass.
The roller dimmer allows the built-in lighting to be adjusted up to 600 lumens, which is just as bright as many flashlights. The 10 energy-efficient LED bulbs are powered by three AAA batteries. Even with the batteries, it weighs less than 6.5 ounces. An ergonomic handle helps reduce hand strain.
This MagniPros set is designed to increase the size of text by up to 300 percent. The two optical-grade PVC magnifying sheets contain fresnel lenses to provide clear images with minimum distortion. The magnifying sheets measure 7 by 10.5 inches, suitable for reading an entire page of small print. Weighing only 1 ounce each, these page-size lenses are among the lightest options available.
The MagniPros pack also includes three magnifying bookmarks. These compact magnifying lenses can be placed in a wallet or pocket for convenient reading on the go.
iMagniphy’s set of two interchangeable 5X and 10X magnifiers can help individuals with weak eyesight read or see their work close up. The round glass lenses contain a strong ABS plastic casing, and bright LED lights further assist vision. The lights are operated by a switch on the handle and require three AAA batteries (not included).
At 8.2 ounces, this magnifying glass is heavy enough to feel substantial in your hand but not too heavy to hinder individuals with limited hand strength. The set also includes a carrying pouch and a lens cleaning cloth.
This headband magnifying glass from Dicfeos comes with five interchangeable lenses of 1X, 1.5X, 2X, 2.5X, and 3.5X magnification, ensuring optimal up-close advantage when clear focus is important. The headset-style form is suitable for those who wear glasses, and for tasks that require hands-free magnification.
The Dicfeos magnifier features high-clarity optical lenses, a lamp containing two LED lights, and an adjustable headband for a more secure fit. The lightweight, ergonomic frame contains soft padding for added comfort. The headset, lenses, and a cleaning cloth nestle safely in the included carrying case. The LED lamp is powered by three AAA batteries (not included).
This 5X magnifying glass contains bright LED lights and a slide-out style to ensure the lens stays safe and scratch-free. The sliding protective case is built into the magnifier, so you don’t have to worry about losing the cover. Sliding the cover into place turns on the light, which automatically turns off when you close the magnifier.
The aspheric, distortion-free lens is ideal for looking at small items like stamps or prescription labels. This Carson pocket magnifier is available as a single item or in a multi-pack and requires three AAA batteries (not included).
The advanced lighting system of 12 LED lights makes this magnifying glass from MagniPros one of the brightest on the market. An anti-glare protector covers the lights, and a dimmable switch allows you to adjust the light and conserve battery. This lightweight magnifying glass weighs just under 6 ounces, which helps avoid hand fatigue.
The 7.1- by 4.5-inch viewing area features an optical-grade lens with 3X magnification. Its unbreakable ABS material ensures long-term use, and the LEDs are estimated to last over 100,000 hours. As an added bonus, you can use this magnifying glass as a flashlight at the maximum 720-lumen output. This page magnifier requires three AAA batteries (not included).
The GYANDULY Large Magnifying Glass contains a handle that’s well-suited for kids’ small hands. It’s designed to read fine print, use in school science labs, observe insects, and explore the world. Offering 5X magnification, this product is made of glass and does not distort objects.
The handle on this GYANDULY magnifier consists of anti-slip rubber, and the casing is rubbery as well, making it difficult to break—a bonus for kids who may be a little rough on their possessions. At 10.41 ounces, it’s not too heavy for young children to hold.
FAQs About Magnifying Glasses
Understanding the basics of magnifying glasses can help you determine which one is right for you. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about magnifying glasses and their corresponding answers.
Q. How does a magnifying glass work?
A magnifying glass uses a strong lens to make an object or reading material underneath the glass appear larger than it actually is. The level of magnification depends on the strength of the lens.
Q. What’s the difference between a loupe and a magnifying glass?
A magnifying glass is also known as a “hand lens.” A hand lens is used to enlarge any object underneath it, but, depending on the shape of the lens, some distortion may occur around the edges. A loupe, which is held close to the eye, often offers much stronger magnification with very little distortion.
Q. How do I choose a magnifying glass?
Consider what you need in a magnifying glass. For instance, a lighted model is beneficial for individuals with weak eyesight, and a headset-style model is optimal for close-up work while at a desk.
Q. Is 10X magnification enough?
Usually, 10X magnification is more than enough for most general purposes. Enlargement of fine print for reading starts at 2X, which is often sufficient. Many of the magnifying glasses in this guide offer between 3X to 5X magnification.
Q. How do you use a magnifying glass?
For most lenses, simply hold the magnifying glass over the object or reading material you want to enlarge. Depending on the model, you might first turn on the built-in light with the touch of a fingertip. If using a headset, adjust it comfortably around your head to allow for hands-free work.