Microscopes are a helpful visual aid used to help people with low vision read and perform tasks from up close.

Microscopes in Olympia

What are Microscopes for Low Vision?

If you are struggling to read or to perform various tasks from up close, such as hobbies like sewing or doing the daily crossword puzzle, there is no reason to let your low vision prevent you from doing so. There are so many visual aids available to help you see from up close and microscopes are one of them, with their own variety of different types. Microscopes are high powered lenses that offer a small field of vision, but help people with low vision be able to perform tasks from up close. Due to the fact that microscopes are primarily used for short distance vision, they are usually used with one eye, monocularly, because converging both eyes when you are looking at a target in such close proximity is very challenging for the visual system. In most cases, the microscope is used by the patient’s dominant eye and the other eye might have what is called a balance lens which is something to keep both lenses looking as symmetrical as possible when only one eye has the microscope.

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Types of Microscopes for Low Vision

There are several different designs for low vision microscopes, which provide varying functional and aesthetic options. Based on your individual needs, the low vision doctor will be able to recommend which microscope would work best for you. Some available options are described below.

Bifocal microscopes

These microscopic lenses are implemented into glasses that have the distance prescription in the top half and then the microscope is mounted on the bottom half, similar to bifocals. These are recommended for people who regularly switch between near and distance vision. There is an added feature that a colored tint can be added to these lenses for patients who benefit from filters.


Full Diameter Microscopes

The microscope is placed in the center of the lens and is used for near vision only. It is a lightweight system with a wide range of powers available, and it tends to be very easy to learn how to use. Although you have to use this while performing a task from quite close up, there is a great depth of focus which means that there is maximum focusing flexibility for the person using it. Due to the fact that this microscope is used from close up, it often is used in just one eye, monocularly. In such a case, a similar looking microscope can be placed on the second eye for a symmetric cosmetic effect, however it won’t have any power. This type of microscope prevents various optical disturbances, known as aberrations, that one could experience from using a microscope or other high powered optical aids. If you have a distance prescription it can be incorporated into the full diameter microscope along with a tint, if you benefit from using filters. 


These high-resolution microscopes are aesthetic and are known for providing clear vision. It has the widest field of vision that also avoids distortions which often come with wide visual fields. If you have an astigmatism, your cylinder correction can be added to these glasses which makes reading so much clearer. Due to the fact that this microscope is used from close up, it often is used in just one eye, monocularly. In such a case, a similar looking microscope will be placed on the second eye for a symmetric cosmetic effect, however it won’t have any power.

Prismatic Microscope

This is an optical system that involves both microscopes and prisms. One eye has a high plus microscope to help focus up close while the other eye has a prism to help the visual system focus so close up without strain.

One Piece Prismatic Half Eye

These reading glasses look like half eye readers where the lenses just cover the bottom half of your eyes so that you can look down through them to read. These glasses are high plus to help people with low vision see clearly up close while still maintaining a more cosmetically appealing appearance. One eye has the high plus microscope while the other eye is looking through a prism that eases the strain on the visual system which occurs when looking up close through a high plus.

HighPower and Telephoto Microscopes

Both of these microscopes are mounted in the center of the lens and are usually given in one eye, monocularly, because of the very close working distance.

The Telephoto is a microscope that allows you to read at a farther distance than its competitors. It has a wide field of vision while still maintaining clear vision without distortions. 

The High Power Microscope is designed to be more cosmetic for people with low vision who require a high magnification.

Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Microscopes are useful low vision devices that provide magnification to assist people with low vision to be able to perform tasks up close. If you have low vision and would like to learn more about the options available to you that can enable you to read and do activities that demand up close vision, you can click here to book your consultation today, Book an Appointment . Patients with low vision visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of low vision services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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