a broad range of products and prices for that little bit of extra help that eases our work or play.
Taking care of what we already have includes using proper equipment; good
lighting (written about in Gadgets & Gizmos 2005), maintain good posture for each task and preventing eye strain. Most of our bear work involves fine detailing: try hand-stitching 20 stitches per inch on dark colored bear fabric, without good lighting and/or magnification!
Vision aids are in 2 basic categories: adaptive and optical.
Optical aids magnify the objects being looked at. Ambient lighting or additional illumination increases viewing ease.
Adaptive aids modify objects or one's environment making it easier to see.
Magnifiers aid those that wear prescription glasses as well as those that do not and are available from 1.5x - 5x magnification.
There are at least 6 different ways to get a close-up view of our projects:
hold a magnifying aid in your hand,
attach one to your /hands/tools,
attach one to your head/glasses/body,
attach it to your (sewing/serger/needle felting) machine, set it on the table top next to you,
or use a free-standing floor model.
I'll not address the hand held styles as we need both hands to work and it's cumbersome to keep picking up and setting down a magnifier. That would also not show you what's happening while you're actually doing the work.
Purpose, price range and ease-of-use are usually the deciding factors. Prices also vary based on factors such as the material and strength of the lens and the type, if any, of illumination (battery, bulb, or light- emitting diode).
The least expensive item is one that clips to your finger or tool, magnifying a small work
area immediately in front the end of your finger or the tool.
There are some additional hints for getting the most out of your sewing (and reading!) time:
Use your 'good eye'. Focus with or place the magnifier where it's most easily used by your stronger eye.
Make a sling. With elastic bands (rehab & sporting goods stores) knot off length of stretch elastic band that goes around your shoulders and supports your forearms in the preferred working position in front of you. This especially helps if you are reading or sewing in one position for an extended length of time.
Occasionally change your point-of-focus. Every 10 minutes or so look off into the distance and focus on objects as far away as you can. Move your head as far as is comfortable from the left to the right. Move your whole body. To avoid Repetitive Stress Syndrome in all parts, stand up and move around, jiggling & shaking everything that jiggles and shakes. It may feel and look silly but it's a great stress and tension reliever.
Magnifiers attached to hands or Tools:
Probably the least expensive option. Not really used for continuous looking through, as your eyes might tire seeing the focal length change as your hand or tool move, but they're excellent for occasionally looking through to thread needles or pluck away the finest wisp of mohair.
Magnifiers attached to Glasses/Head/Body:
These include clip-on, flip up lenses, for one or both eyes, headband styles like the long-available OptiVisor® that allow you to wear your own prescription glasses underneath and the styles that sit midway against your chest between your eyes and your work. All of these are available in differing strengths or magnification and are moderately priced.
Magnifiers attached to Sewing Machine:
Many of the table models, like Ott® Table Top models, are available in a clamp style to attach exactly where you need it. Tend to run on the more expensive side
Floor or Table Magnifier Aids:
More expensive options but also permanent fixtures that stand the test of time. They can be as utilitarian or as decorator-friendly as you like. I've looked into just the models with attached lighting, as that is often half of the problem. Many have changeable lenses of different strengths that swing out of the way when using just the light. These are my personal favorites:
I have the table top clamp model with the extended gooseneck arm. The lens swings out of the way when in use at my computer table and is also used as the overhead lighting during my bears' photo sessions, creating a true,
clear, white lighting.