Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  1. How do I obtain brochures of MagniSight products?
  2. How can I find out who my local representative is?
  3. How do I know if a CCTV will work for me?
  4. I'm a veteran.  Does the VA buy CCTV's?
  5. Can I get a CCTV through medicaid or medicare?
  6. I am on a fixed income.  Do you have payment plans?
  7. What is a CCTV?  How Does It Work?
Magnisight's 23 year Anniversary logo

The following information is available courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

  1. What is low vision?
  2. Is losing vision just part of getting older?
  3. How do I know if I have low vision?
  4. How do I know when to get an eye exam?
  5. What can I do if I have low vision?
  6. Jane's Story
  7. Jim's Story
  8. Crystal's Story
  9. Mike's Story
  10. Where can I get more information?
  11. What can I do about my low vision?
  12. Questions to ask your eye care professional.
  13. Questions to ask your specialist in low vision.
  14. Glossary of Vision Related Terms

How do I obtain brochures of MagniSight Products ?

Please contact our office by email, phone, or fax, to request a brochure and additional company information.  Online copies of our brochures can be obtained by clicking here.

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How can I find out who my local representative is?

MagniSight has representatives who service most states in the U.S.  Many of our sales representatives have their own websites, and show rooms.  Additionally, most will travel to your home to bring a free, no risk demonstration system for you to see.  To locate the representative in your area, please contact our office by phone, email, or fax, and we will be happy to refer you.

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How do I know if a CCTV will work for me?

A CCTV magnifies printed material onto a monitor.  The type of monitor, type of camera, and focus capabilities all affect how great the magnification will be.  From our experience, individuals with various vision conditions, who have some sight left, generally can use a CCTV to help them in their every day reading and writing.  We actually have several individuals in our company who's vision is 20/400 or worse, and they are able to effectively use a CCTV video magnifier daily.  The best way to determine if a CCTV will work for you is to give one a try.  Most companies, including MagniSight, offer free, in home demonstrations, or show rooms where you can try the products.

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I'm a veteran.  Does the VA buy CCTV's?

The Veteran's Administration does purchase CCTV's on a case by case basis for veterans with low vision. MagniSight currently holds the national contract for CCTVs through the VA.  To find out about eligibility requirements, please speak with your visual care provider at your local VA medical facility.  You may also find valuable information at the Blind Rehabilitation Service website.

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Can I get a CCTV through medicaid or medicare?

To our knowledge, most personal insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare do not currently cover the cost of CCTV video magnifiers for people with low vision.  If cost is an issue, you may want to check in your local community and with state rehabilitation facilities to find out about programs that may be available to you. 

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I am on a fixed income.  Do you have payment plans?

Magnisight does not normally offer financing plans, but we do sell direct to the public and we frequently are running specials that can save on the purchase of a video magnifier. We also sell refurbished equipment when it is available at significant savings. We would also encourage you to speak with your local senior center, Lion's club, or vision rehabilitation center. Some may offer programs for renting or borrowing used equipment.

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What is a CCTV?  How Does It Work?

In the simplest of terms, a Closed Circuit Television, or CCTV, uses a camera and a screen or monitor to magnify images and text.  A CCTV will magnify small print that you find on newspapers, pill bottles, food items, and will also magnify photos, three-dimensional objects and more.  A CCTV can magnify images up to 70 times their original size, making even the smallest items easy to see.

Technically speaking, a CCTV operates much like a video camera.  A camera looks down to a table approximately 5 inches below.  Place what you want to view on the table, and the camera captures the image and displays it on the TV/Monitor or SVGA Monitor above.

The difference between a normal video camera and a CCTV is in what you can do once the image is on screen.  A CCTV will allow you to:

  • Resize: Simple zoom controls allow you to zoom in and out to make your image as large or small as you need.
  • Focus:  Easy manual focus knobs make it simple to focus the material on screen at your comfort level. Manual focus knobs are on every unit, even our auto focus systems.
  • Reverse Contrast: An easy to pull knob changes the color of your text and background.  Black text on white background, or white text on black background for high contrast needs.
  • Change Colors:  For optimal viewing, you can add optional select-a-color, which is a multi-color mode that will change the background and text color.  There are up to 24 different color combinations in this mode.

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What is low vision?

Low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people find everyday tasks difficult to do.  Reading the mail, shopping, cooking, seeing the TV, and writing can seem challenging. 

Millions of Americans lose some of their vision every year.  Irreversible vision loss is most common among people over age 65.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Is losing vision just part of getting older?

No.  Some normal changes in our eyes and vision occur as we get older.  However, these changes usually don't lead to low vision.  Most people develop low vision because of eye diseases and health conditions like macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, and diabetes.  A few people develop vision loss after eye injuries from birth defects.  While vision that's lost usually cannot be restored, many people can make the most of the vision they have.

Your eye care professional can tell the difference between normal changes in the aging eye and those caused by eye diseases.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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How do I know if I have low vision?

There are many signs that can signal vision loss.  For example, even with your regular glasses, do you have difficulty:

  • Recognizing faces of friends and relatives?
  • Doing things that require you to see well up close, like reading, cooking, sewing, or fixing things around the house?
  • Picking out and matching the color of your clothes?
  • Doing things at work or home because lights seem dimmer than they used to?
  • Reading street and bus signs or the names of stores?

Vision changes like these could be early warning signs of eye disease.  Usually, the earlier your problem is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment and keeping your remaining vision.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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How do I know when to get an eye exam?

Regular dilated eye exams should be part of your routine health care.  However, if you believe your vision has recently changed, you should see your eye care professional as soon as possible.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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What can I do if I have low vision?

Many people with low vision are taking charge.  They want more information about devices and services that can help them keep their independence.  Its important to talk with your eye care professional about your vision problems.  Even though it may be difficult, ask for help.  Find out where you can get more information about services and devices that can help you.

Keep in mind that many people require more than one visual device.  They may need magnifying lenses for close up viewing, and telescopic lenses for seeing in the distance.  Some people may need to learn how to get around in their neighborhoods. 

If your eye care professional says, "Nothing more can be done for your vision," ask about vision rehabilitation.  These programs offer a wide range of services, such as low vision evaluations and special training to use visual and adaptive devices.  They also offer guidance for modifying your home as well as group support from others with low vision.

Investigate and Learn... Be persistent.  Remember that you are your best health advocate.  Investigate and learn as much as you can, especially if you have been told that you may lose more vision.  It is important that you ask questions about vision rehabilitation and get answers.  Many resources are available to help you.  Write down questions to ask your doctor, or take a tape recorder with you.  Rehabilitation programs, devices, and technology can help you adapt to vision loss.  They may help you keep doing many of the things you did before.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Jane's Story

Jane is slowly losing her "straight-ahead" vision, which allows her to read and recognize faces.  She has age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that affects central vision.  While Jane's eye care professional has reassured her that she will not lose her vision completely, she is frustrated because she does not see as well as before.

Jane thought that nothing she did would help.  Then, her eye care professional suggested that she see a specialist in low vision.  A specialist in low vision is an optometrist or ophthalmologist who is trained to evaluate vision. This person can prescribe visual devices, and teach people how to use them.

There are a wide variety of devices that help people make the most of their remaining vision.  The specialist recommended special magnifying devices for Jane that helped her see things more clearly.  Jane also went to a vision rehabilitation program that taught her new ways of doing tasks.  Someone from the program came to Jane's home to see what changes could be made.  She also learned about helpful devices, such as talking clocks that tell the time with a press of a button.  Large print books and publications made it easier to read and allowed Mane to keep enjoying one of her favorite activities.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Jim's Story

Jim has lost a lot of his side vision because of glaucoma.  He found it difficult to do his job.  He made some changes to his office so he could work better.  A talking computer keeps him up-to-date on sales figures.  Writing was very difficult until he used better lighting.  A vision rehabilitation teacher showed Jim how to use a writing guide to help write clear notes and employee memos.  Learning to get around safely from an orientation and mobility specialist helped him travel independently.

He also joined a support group to talk about the challenges, frustrations, fears, and unhappiness that can come from living with low vision.  At first, he felt that his vision loss would keep him from doing the things he liked to do.  In the end, he found that wasn't quite true.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Crystal's Story

Crystal lost some vision because of diabetes.  Rather than limit her activities, she chose to look at them as challenges.  Crystal met with a vision rehabilitation professional.  She received training on how to use certain low vision aids. As a result, Crystal made several changes to her home and simplified her life.

First, raised markings were applied to most common settings on her microwave dial.  This allowed her to more safely adjust the oven.  Better lighting in her stairways, closets, and home workshop made it safer to move about.  A magnifier for reading food labels made controlling her diet easy.  Special checks with large print and raised markings simplified paying bills.  A special needle allowed her to continue sewing, one of her favorite activities. For Crystal, the result was increased safety, more freedom, and restored confidence.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Mike's Story

Mike also has low vision because of age-related macular degeneration.  But he has found ways to adapt to his vision loss.  Mike's doctor referred him to a vision rehabilitation program.  As a result of his evaluation, Mike uses a closed circuit television at home.  It enlarges the print in letters, bills, newspapers, and magazines.  He uses a telescopic lens for getting around his neighborhood.  A hand-held magnifier helps him read his mail in his favorite chair and menus at restaurants.  Mike has learned to adapt, and low vision has not stopped him from enjoying life.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Where can I get more information?

For more information about low vision, contact your state or local rehabilitation agency for the blind and visually impaired, or go to the MagniSight resources page to connect with other vision organizations across the United States.

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What can I do about my low vision?

Although many people maintain good vision throughout their lifetimes, people over the age of 65 are at increased risk of developing low vision.  You and your eye care professional or specialist in low vision need to work in partnership to achieve what is best for you.  An important part of this relationship is good communication.  Read on below to look at some questions to ask your eye care professional to get the discussion started.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Questions to ask your eye care professional.

  • What changes can I expect in my vision?
  • Will my vision loss get worse? How much of my vision will I lose?
  • Will regular eyeglasses improve my vision?
  • What medical/surgical treatments are available for my condition?
  • What can I do to protect or prolong my vision?
  • Will diet, exercise, or other lifestyle changes help?
  • If my vision can't be corrected, can you refer me to a specialist in low vision?
  • Where can I get a low vision examination and evaluation?  Where can I get vision rehabilitation?

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Questions to ask your specialist in low vision.

  • How can I continue my normal, routine activities?
  • Are there resources to help me in my job?
  • Will any special devices help me with daily activities like reading, sewing, cooking, or fixing things around the house?
  • What training and services are available to help me live better and more safely with low vision?
  • Where can I find individual or group support to cope with my vision loss?

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Glossary of Vision Related Terms

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD):  An eye disease that results in a loss of central, "straight-ahead" vision.  AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans.

Cataract:  A clouding of the lens.  People with cataracts see through a haze.  In a usually safe and successful surgery, the cloudy lens can be replaced with a plastic lens.

Diabetes:  A chronic disease related to high blood sugar that may lead to vision loss

Eye Care Professional:  An optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Glaucoma:  An eye disease, related to high pressure inside the eye, that damages the optic nerve and leads to vision loss.  Glaucoma affects peripheral, or side vision.

Low Vision:  A visual impairment, not corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery, that interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities.

Ophthalmologist:  A medical doctor who diagnoses and treats all diseases and disorders of the eye, and can prescribe glasses and contact lenses.

Optician:  A trained professional who grinds, fits, and dispenses glasses by prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Optometrist:  A primary care provider who prescribes glasses and contact lenses, and diagnoses and treats certain conditions and diseases of the eye.

Orientation and Mobility Specialist:  A person who trains people with low vision to move about safely in the home and travel by themselves.

Specialists in Low Vision:  An ophthalmologist or optometrist who specializes in the evaluation of low vision.  This person can prescribe visual devices and teach people how to use them.

Vision Rehabilitation Teacher:  A person who trains people with low vision to use optical and non-optical devices, adaptive techniques, and community resources.

Visual and Adaptive Devices:  Prescription and non-prescription devices that help people with low vision enhance their remaining vision.  Some examples include magnifiers, large print books, check-writing guides, white canes, and telescopic lenses.

Courtesy of The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, & The US Department of Health and Human Services.

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