How magnification loupes are viewed in today’s world is dramatically different than it was decades ago. Years ago, only a handful of dentists used magnification on a regular basis and the first time I ever encountered a hygienist using magnification was 1996.
The impact of COVID-19 on dental healthcare workers is startling. The world is changed, and new PPE requirements are heavily impacting the day-to-day of dentists and hygienists everywhere. While our risk for contracting an infectious disease has always been high, now there are new risk factors to consider.
Implant dentistry requires specific motor skills with intense and focused vision for several hours consecutively. However, the conditions and obstacles that we usually encounter in the oral cavity can add a considerable burden to our vision and limit our ability to perform at our best. This is one of the main reasons why loupes are the standard of care in dentistry.
As a clinical professor and dental hygienist, I have experienced firsthand the process of purchasing loupes. Style is often a key factor in the purchasing decision, along with magnification power, weight, and cost. But what about the headlight? The light is often overlooked and considered by many to be an optional accessory. Incorporating a light as a part of your investment is essential in order realize the full benefit of using magnification. Without proper lighting, we are simply magnifying darkness and straining our eyes.
The first pair of loupes I wore in my career were purchased for me by my boss, as it was a requirement to wear them to work in his office. My boss had an early realization of the critical role that loupes play in delivering “state of the art” patient care. Unfortunately, his focus on providing optimal care did more harm than good for me. The loupes that he had graciously purchased for me were not the correct size, shape, weight or working distance for my needs. I ended up with pain that I didn’t have previously and felt dizzy most of the day. I often worked with the telescope up and quickly formed the assumption that loupes were not for me.