What are the recommended magnified lighted mirrors to help with macular degeneration?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My father has macular degeneration. Are there any recommended magnified lighted mirrors that will help him be able to shave on his own?

Expert Answer

Lylas Mogk, M.D. is an ophthalmologist and director of the Henry Ford Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center in Grosse Pointe and Livonia, Michigan, and the author of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight.

Choosing magnifying mirrors is a very individual matter. The mirrors come with different levels of magnification, some are lighted, some attach to another mirror via suction cups, some mount on a wall, and others sit on a flat surface.

The level of magnification makes a difference because the less detailed vision a person has, the more magnification he needs.  But the more magnification in the mirror, the less area he will see at one time, so you want to find a mirror with the minimum magnification your dad needs.  The more magnification a parent needs the closer he has to be to the mirror, so the positioning of the mirror is also important. It will not work, for example, to mount a strong magnifying mirror at arm's length from him, which is where you find most bathroom mirrors.

If shaving is the only problem your father has, and if he wears bifocals, you could try this easy experiment. Have him look in his regular bathroom mirror while wearing his glasses and hold them up for him so he can see his face through the bifocal segment, or the lowera part of the lenses. If, when you do that, he can see well enough to shave, you might consider getting him a pair of glasses with just the bifocal power in each lens to use for shaving.

If lifting his glasses doesn't help, then I would suggest going with him to a bed-and- bath store so he can try all the mirrors on display to see which works best. If you are considering a lighted magnifying mirror, try it with the light. He needs his face well lighted, as he won't be able to tolerate direct light in his eyes.

If shaving is not his only problem, then find out if there's a vision rehabilitation program in your area.  A source for this information is www.visionconnection.org. The American Academy of Ophthalmology also has a useful handout with resources for people with vision loss. You'll also find lots of suggestions in my book, Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight.