How to Choose Loupes
Since the time I got my first pair of loupes in 2001 as a USC dental student, dental loupes have almost become a standard among dentists and dental hygienist. Today, I rarely meet a college who does not at-least have one pair of loupe through most have 2-3 pairs with different magnifications. Occasionally my friends ask me, "Which loupes I should buy?" Rather than answer questions one at a time, I will write about the most common questions clinicians ask on the topic of dental loupes. I hope my observations help you select loupes that makes you happy with for years to come. Lets get started...
- Ray Nguyen D.D.S. -
Snap on Optics Manager
PICKING THE RIGHT MAGNIFICATION; TTL or FLIP-UP; STYLE AND COMFORT
LIGHT WEIGHT FEEL VS. STRONGER MAGNIFICATION
Is more magnification or light weight more important to you?
In a perfect world you would get the best of both worlds. You want an ultra-lightweight set of loupes and lights the has all the magnification you will ever need for both simple fillings and the most complex root canals. In real life, most clinicians have multiple sets of loupes for this very reason. Its and age old dilemma.
2.5X and 3X Galilean Loupes
The lighter the magnification the lighter the loupes. Most clinicians choose 2.5X or 3X magnification as their first set of loupes. 2.5X and 3X loupes gives you the most comfortable power to weight ratio. These loupes weighs about the same as the average sunglass even with our Signature Loupe Light. The typical 2.5X-3X loupes weight 25g to 30g depending on the frame you choose.
2.5X and 3X loupes also have a much wider viewing area and greater range in which the image remains in focus. This is called "Field-of-View" and "Depth-of-Field" respectively. Think of having a larger field-of-view as being able to see a bigger picture side to side and up and down. Like wise, Think of having greater depth-of-view as being able to move towards or away from the thing you're looking at and still be in focus.
3.5X, 4X, 5X, 6X Prismatic Loupes
Naturally the more powerful the magnification, the heavier the loupes. When you put on a 3.5X-6X loupe you know it right away. Anything you look at becomes huge. It feels heavy but the feeling goes away shortly. With these loupes, you see much more details. The sharpness and color vibrancy is like no other. The image without proper lighting can be a lot darker so the Snap On Optics Highbeam light is a must. If you have had 2.5X or 3X loupes before, you have a better chance of wearing 3.5X - 6X loupes very comfortably.
THROUGH-THE-LENS(TTL) VS. FLIP-UP LOUPES
If someone is deciding between getting through-the-lens loupes or flip-up loupes I mostly recommend through-the-lens loupes. For simplicity sake we will call through-the-lens loupes TTL loupes. These loupes are custom built to fit your unique facial features. Also, with TTL loupes you get a much larger viewing window. Usually you can see from molar to molar and arch to arch with TTL loupes,
While flip-up loupes work for some people. Most clinicians I've met tell me TTL loupes look and feel a lot nicer. If we compare two loupes with the same magnification and eye glass frames, the TTL loupes will always feel lighter. TTL loupe do not have the extra weight of the double hinge system which allows them to be flipped up and down. I also find this hinge system to be fragile on most flip-up loupes I've owned. Sometimes the hinge screw gets loose and the flip-up loupes looses it's alignment with my line of sight. Over time the hinge wears down from repeated movement and breaks. Because of these three reasons, I recommend TTL loupes over Flip-up loupes.
STYLE AND COMFORT
Picking the right frame affects you just as much as picking the right magnification. You wear the same frame on every day. Take time to select the one that first you. Most of the time I observe doctors selecting loupes based on frame alone. This is how I selected my first and second pair of loupes. It works.
Wrap-Around Sport vs. Flat Metal Frame
Lately wrap-around sports frame loupes seems to be gaining popularity. It makes sense because these frames look great on just about anyone. Most of the time wrap-around sports framed loupes are made from sunglass frames with clear safety lenses. These work out great because I find them to be the most comfortable loupes ever.
Additionally, wrap-around sports frames protect you from spatter on the left and right side. This helps if you're like me and avoid side shields when possible. I question whether or not side shields really protect that much because later on in the day, my side shields tends to slip backwards and produce large gaps allowing contaminants to enter my eyes. On the other hand, wrap-around sports frames are always provide the same level of side protection throughout the day.
Besides offering eye protection, wrap-around sports frames makes most doctors look great chairside. They just looks really sleek. If you like colors, wrap-around sports frames gives you a wider selection of frame colors and to choose from. Just about every frame comes in black. Some frames also comes in silver, brown/tortoise, and red. Black seems to be the most popular with male doctors while brown/tortoise seems to be the most popular with female doctors. I have a feeling this has to do with doctors trying to match loupe colors with scrub colors. You decide.
Asian Fit vs. Traditional European Fit Frames
You've likely worn some kind of glasses before. Have you noticed some frames just feels more secure on your face while others slide down you nose? This is especially important when you are chairside because the wrong frame will slide down your nose when you bend over slightly. So which frame should you choose if 9 out of 10 eye glasses you've ever tried on started slipping down on your nose?
Let's start with why we have "Asian-Fit" frames in the first place. Asian fit frames were made for people with shallow nose bridges and high cheek bones aka zygomatic arches (for those who remember head-neck anatomy). When clinicians with these facial characteristics try on traditional frames, the frames slide down their nose and rest on their cheeks. Sometimes the lens leaves a mark on their cheeks. No very comfortable. To solve this problem, Asian Fit frames have larger paddles on the nose piece to keep the frames from slipping on your nose and more narrow safety lenses to avoid resting the edge of the lens on your cheeks.
When helping doctors select the right loupes, I find that the Veloce frames and Dolomite frames tend to fit the most securely. Some doctors told me they did not have to use a head strap to keep the loupes in position through out the day. Of-course some clinicians will need to use a head strap to keep their loupes from slipping no matter what they do. If this is you, see the, "Tips for best loupes results."