Magnifying reading aids for children and teenagers with low vision

Low vision in children and teenagers not only affects reading, learning and education but is also thought to have a significant effect on a child's general development. Magnifying reading aids can assist a child or teenager to make the best use of the vision they have.

We reviewed the current evidence on the use of magnifying reading aids in children between the ages of 5 and 16 years of age with low vision, when compared to the use of glasses alone. We included magnifying aids such as hand- or stand-held magnifying glasses, telescopes or binoculars but we excluded electronic reading aids which will be the subject of a separate review.

Search date
The electronic databases were last searched on 8 January 2015.

We found no studies which met our criteria for inclusion in this review. We recommend that future studies in this area consider the effect of magnifying reading aids on reading speed and accuracy as well as simply the size of text correctly seen, in order to assess more fully the effect of the reading aid on a child's normal function. We also recommend that the effect of the reading aid on the child's quality of life is investigated as this may have significant implications on its regular and/or long-term use.

Authors' conclusions: 

There is a lack of good quality evidence regarding the use of optical low vision aids in children and young people. As such, no implications for practice can be drawn. We believe future research should include functional outcome measures such as reading speed, accuracy and comprehension, as well as the effect of low vision aids on quality of life, in order to truly assess and compare the effect of these devices on a child's life and development.

Read the full abstract...

Low vision in childhood is a significant barrier to learning and development, particularly for reading and education. Optical low vision aids may be used to maximise the child's functional vision. The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously highlighted the importance of the use of low vision aids in managing children with visual impairment across the world.


To assess the effect of optical low vision aids on reading in children and young people with low vision.

Search strategy: 

We searched CENTRAL (which contains the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group Trials Register) (2014, Issue 12), Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, Ovid MEDLINE Daily, Ovid OLDMEDLINE (January 1946 to January 2015), EMBASE (January 1980 to January 2015), the Health Technology Assessment Programme (HTA) (, the ISRCTN registry (, ( and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) ( We did not use any date or language restrictions in the electronic searches for trials. We last searched the electronic databases on 8 January 2015.

We also used manual searching to check the references listed in retrieved articles. Manufacturers of low vision aids were contacted to request any information about studies or research regarding their products.

Selection criteria: 

We planned to include randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs where any optical low vision aid was compared to standard refractive correction in children and young people aged between 5 and 16 years of age with low vision as defined by the WHO. We planned to include within-person design studies where the order of presentation of devices was randomised.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two authors independently reviewed the search results for eligibility .

Main results: 

No studies met the inclusion criteria for this review.