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11 Types of Magnifying Glasses (with Pictures)

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To many people, magnifying glasses are straightforward and simple devices. Even so, there are many different types of magnifying glasses designed for specific purposes. Knowing about the different magnifying glasses can help you select the best tool based on the task at hand.

Below, learn about 11 types of magnifying glasses and how to use them.

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The 11 Types of Magnifying Glasses

1. Bar Magnifiers

Carson MagniRead 1.5X Bar Magnifier actual use

Notable Feature: Bar design
Best For: Reading

Bar magnifiers have a bar-like design. They lie flat on a flat surface, and they are the width of about one or two lines in a book. As a result, bar magnifiers are often used in reading contexts. Some also have feet so that the magnifier is raised a few inches above the reading material. As you read the line, adjust the bar magnifier so that you can specifically magnify the text you are reading.

2. Binocular Magnifiers

binocular Magnifier
Image Credit: AlteredR, Shutterstock
Notable Feature: Wearable around head and neck
Best For: On-the-go use

Binocular magnifiers are a specific type of hands-free magnifier. Often, binocular magnifiers are worn around your head. You can use these magnifiers alone, or you can wear them with other prescription and safety eyeglasses. Some binocular magnifiers have additional features, such as an adjustable headband or flip-up frame.

3. Dome Magnifiers

Dandelion 6X Dome : Paperweight Magnifier w: Pouch Table Magnifying

Notable Feature: Dome shape
Best For: Reading, seeing small items vertically

Dome magnifiers are named after their notable shape. They have a spherical shape, but the bottom of this sphere is flat. This flat bottom allows you to place the dome magnifier on a reading surface. You can also use the item vertically for items you find difficult to see, such as threading a needle. Dome magnifiers are sometimes called globe magnifiers.

4. Fresnel Magnifiers

OpticLens Brand Credit Card Sized Fresnel Magnifying Lenses

Notable Feature: Flat design
Best For: Seeing a lot at once

Fresnel magnifiers are thin, flat, and rectangle shaped. They can either have a frame or be completely frameless. Some may have a handheld design, whereas others have a stand. No matter how the Fresnel magnifier is made, it is typically useful for viewing a large amount of text at one time, such as with maps, puzzles, books, or telephone directories.

5. Handheld Magnifiers

Magnifying glass
Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain, Pxhere
Notable Feature: Handle
Best For: Versatile use

When many people imagine a magnifying glass, it is a handheld magnifier that comes to mind. Handheld magnifiers are pretty self-explanatory. They come in round or rectangular shapes, and there is often a handle so that you don’t have to get the glass dirty. Handheld magnifiers can be used for a variety of purposes.

6. Magnifying Lamps

white magnifying lamp
Image Credit: Irina Kvyatkovskaya, Shutterstock
Notable Feature: Flexible arm
Best For: Adjustable viewing

Magnifying lamps have many features, such as adjustable magnification levels, illumination levels, light bulbs, and color emission. Often, magnifying lamps are attached to a flexible arm so that you can move the magnifying lamp as needed. It’s often moved over reading materials, but it is used for other purposes as well.

7. Pendant Magnifiers

Mighty Bright 87712 Lighted Pendant Magnifier

Notable Feature: Necklace chain
Best For: Frequent use

Pendant magnifiers are worn like a necklace. The magnifier is around a chain that is then worn around your neck. The benefit of pendant magnifiers is that you can always have the magnifier at hand. Whenever you don’t need the magnifier, just allow it to fall against your chest. When you need it, pick it back up.

8. Pocket Magnifiers

Pocket magnifier in Leather Case
Image Credit: artfotoxyz, Shutterstock
Notable Feature: Portable case
Best For: On-the-go use

Pocket magnifiers are designed so that you can always have a magnifier on your person. These magnifiers are built in a hard plastic case that can open or close. This allows you to keep the pocket magnifiers safe, even when you are out and about. Sometimes, pocket magnifiers can have additional features, such as illuminated models.

9. Stand Magnifiers

standing magnifying glass
Image Credit: Koson, Shutterstock
Notable Feature: Located on stands
Best For: Those with shaky hands

Stand magnifiers are put inside holders that have small legs or other supports. The idea behind the stand magnifier is that you can set the magnifier over an item and simply tilt the magnifier as you change directions. Stand magnifiers are also helpful for individuals who do not have steady hands and need a magnifier to stay still on its own.

10. Hands-Free Magnifiers

hand with latex glove on magnifying glass
Image Credit: Hari Mahidhar, Shutterstock
Notable Feature: Hands-free design
Best For: Those who need to work with their hands

Hands-free magnifiers do not require you to hold the magnifier during use. There are quite a few hands-free designs, some being binocular magnifiers and others being magnifying lamps. These magnifiers are great if you want to work with your hands and need your hands free. Hands-free magnifiers are sometimes more expensive due to their convenient design.

11. Digital Magnifiers

Koolertron 5 inch Digital Video Magnifier

Notable Feature: Digital
Best For: Digital viewing

Finally, the last type of magnifying glass is the digital magnifier. A digital magnifier will typically expand a digital screen. Some examples of digital magnifiers include screen magnification software, portable video magnifiers, and desktop video magnifiers.

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How to Decide Which Magnifying Glass Is Best for You

Because there are so many magnifying glasses available, it’s important to consider the right magnifier for your purpose. When deciding on the magnifying glass, here are some factors to consider to make sure you get the right one:

Intended Purpose

How you intend to use the magnifying glass makes a huge difference in which item to select. For example, a bar magnifier may be great if you are reading, but you might want a pendant magnifier if you need some help on the go.

Additional Features

Some magnifying glasses come with additional features. Consider what sort of features will be convenient for you. For example, you might want a hands-free or illuminated magnifying glass, depending on what you’re doing.


Make sure that the magnifying glass is comfortable for your eye. There should be anti-reflection coatings, appropriate eye relief, and an appropriate magnification for the job. Focusing on comfortability will help to ensure the magnifying glass you get is usable.

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In Conclusion

As you can see, there are quite a few magnifying glass types available. Select a magnifying glass for you based on your intended purpose. From there, look at additional features and comfortability to ensure the magnifying glass you get is perfect from all angles.

Featured Image Credit: Agence Olloweb, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.