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Wearing Loupes with Visual Impairment

I wear prescription lenses in my everyday life. How does this impact my choosing the right loupes to best support my vision in clinical practice?

I wear prescription lenses in my everyday life. How does this impact my choosing the right loupes to best support my vision in clinical practice?

Visual acuity is a significant factor to consider when selecting loupes. Anecdotally, most dental hygienists wear through-the-lens (TTL) loupes, which are based on the wearer having 20-20 vision. If you have the prescription built into the lenses and your eye prescription changes, it can impact the focal length of the loupes. 

Contact Lenses

One option recommended by many manufacturers is to wear contact lenses. If you can adjust to contact lenses, then obtaining prescription lenses in your loupes is not necessary. If you cannot wear contact lenses, make sure you schedule an eye examination right before selecting and purchasing loupes, so that you won’t need to replace the lenses soon based on changes in your eyesight. 

In a study on the eyesight of dental school faulty members, 8% reported they were unsure whether their eyesight was sufficient to work effectively.1 Ensuring your vision is up to par is critical to successful patient care. At around age 40, most of us will begin to experience age-related changes to our vision, so make sure you are monitoring any vision changes no matter what age you are.2 

Placing Prescription Lenses in Loupes

The following questions should be considered when placing prescription lenses in TTL loupes: 

  1. How frequently does your eye prescription change? 
  2. How does the eye prescription integrate with the loupe’s lenses? 
  3. Do you need to send the loupes back to the manufacturer to update the prescription?
  4. How long will you be without your loupes while the new prescription is placed? 

Some loupes have a removable prescription insert option that makes changing prescriptions in the future simple, with no need to send the lenses back to the manufacturer. However, these prescription lens inserts  may add weight to the loupes and potentially increase the risk of fogging. 

The other option is to have prescription lenses put into both carrier lens and the telescope. Loupes will need to be sent back to the manufacturer to change the prescription that is integrated with carrier lens and telescope. Note that updating the prescription may cause changes to working distance, angulation, and alignment. 

Strategies for Success

Visit the exhibit hall at a dental conference so you can review the various loupe options of different manufacturers in one place. Each manufacturer has its own policies regarding prescription lenses. It is important to review fees and warranties. Replacing lenses can cost approximately $100 for the removable insert option and $500 for lenses within the carrier lens and telescope.

References

  1. Chandler NP, Gray AR, Murray CM. Eyesight:a study of the staff of a dental school. BDJ Open. 2017;3:17008.
  2. Lintag-Nguyen K, Dahm T. Ensure career longevity with eye health. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. 2021;19(10)14–18.
The Ask the Expert column features answers to your most pressing clinical questions provided by Dimensions of Dental Hygiene’s online panel of key opinion leaders, including: Jacqueline J. Freudenthal, RDH, MHE, on anesthesia; Nancy K. Mann, RDH, MSEd, on cultural competency; Claudia Turcotte, CDA, RDH, MSDH, MSOSH, on ergonomics; Van B. Haywood, DMD, and Erin S. Boyleston, RDH, MS, on esthetic dentistry; Michele P. Carr, RDH, MA, EdD, on ethics and risk management; Denise Muesch Helm, RDH, EdD, on fluoride; Kandis V. Garland, RDH, MS, on infection control; Mary Kaye Scaramucci, RDH, MS, on instrument sharpen ing; Kathleen O. Hodges, RDH, MS, on instrumentation; Karen Davis, RDH, BSDH, on insurance coding; Cynthia Stegeman, EdD, RDH, RD, LD, CDE, on nutrition; Olga A.C. Ibsen, RDH, MS, on oral pathology; Martha McComas, RDH, MS, on patient education; Michael W. Roberts, DDS, MScD, on pediatric dentistry; Purnima Kumar DDS, PhD, on periodontal therapy; Ann Eshenaur Spolarich, RDH, PhD, on pharmacology; and Caren M. Barnes, RDH, MS, on polishing. Log on to dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/asktheexpert to submit your question.

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. March 2022; 20(3)46.

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