When first purchasing loupes, it is recommended to select the lowest magnification that meets your needs. A 2.5X magnification is most common for first-time loupe wearers as there is a larger field of view which is easier to adjust to and use in delivering patient care. As vision changes over time, your magnification may need to increase to reduce the stress on the eyes and optimize the effectiveness of using loupes. Let’s review the signs and symptoms that reflect a need for an upgraded magnification:
Headaches: Headaches are often a sign of eye strain. If a clinician is experiencing an increase in migraine headaches, it could be a sign that the loupe magnification power is not strong enough. Not only do headaches pose a challenge to comfort and overall well-being throughout the day, but they can cause additional tension in the neck and back. This prolonged pain can trigger muscle imbalance and injury.
Vision Changes: Prescriptions for eyeglasses should be kept up-to-date, and the same is true for magnification in loupes. Just like having the right prescription is critical for optimal eye health, making sure that you have the right level of magnification is imperative in preventing eye strain and discomfort, as well as promoting proper ergonomics. If the field of vision is not as clear as before, it may be time to evaluate the magnification strength. The America Optometric Association recommends adults have their eyes examined every two years. This would be a great time to assess your loupe’s fit as well.
Neck Pain: Pain in the neck, shoulder and back are often a side of effect of poor ergonomics. When clinicians are struggling to access the patient, they usually fall out of the proper positioning that prevent injury. If magnification of the loupes being used is not strong enough, the clinician will develop a tendency to lean closer to the patient, often resulting in a twisted torso and muscle strain.
Reduced Clarity: If the edges of teeth are blurred, it is likely time for an upgrade. Maintaining edge to edge clarity allows for reduced stress on the eye which can reduce overall vision strain. Working with reduced clarity can amplify other symptoms as well.
The use of proper magnification is important to maintaining good health, but it also plays a major role in patient care provided daily. When loupes are no longer comfortable to wear or any of the above symptoms present themselves, it is important to explore upgraded magnification to better protect your vision – and your patients.
As dental professionals, we work in a small darkish environment dealing with very tiny things. But although magnification helps us see what the naked eye or even the eyes wearing reading glasses can’t see, without better illumination, we cannot see what we need to render planned treatment or help identify things that need treatment.