No dental hygienist would argue against the fact that providing treatment to patients while maintaining optimal posture is a tremendous challenge. Many factors affect the posture of the hygienist, including the patient chair and supporting instrumentation, the operator stool, other equipment and technology, and—of course—habits. The one item in the hygienist’s armamentarium that can have the greatest impact on posture, however, is usage of loupes or magnification.
Several types of loupes are available. Through-the-lens (TTL) loupes have the scope embedded in their lenses, which provides a slightly higher width of field since the scope is closer to the eye. These loupes require very precise measurement of focal distance, pupillary distance, and especially the angle of the scope's declination to allow for good visualization and proper neck position at the same time. Some excellent examples of through-the-lens loupes are the RDH Elite and EyeZoom Mini from Orascoptic, ErgoVision from SurgiTel, BDR Loupes from Designs for Vision, and Micro TTL from PeriOptix.
Flip-up loupes are mounted on a hinge on the frames. The hinge allows the scopes to be raised up out of the way, and it can be adjusted for pupillary distance and angle of declination by the user. Early flip-up loupes tended to be heavy and bulky, but manufacturers have greatly improved these types of loupes for greater comfort. Some examples of flip-up loupes are the Legacy and Panoramic flip-ups from PeriOptix.
Aside from the style of loupes, the frames and safety features (i.e., eye protection) are important, as are the accessories, such as headlights. A headlight can help the hygienist achieve greater visibility and avoid numerous adjustments of the overhead light during procedures. Many manufacturers have battery-operated headlights that fasten on the frames of the loupes. Orascoptic makes the Spark headlight that is cordless and attaches to any loupe or eyewear frame, as well as the XV1, which is a loupe and cordless light all in one. Designs for Vision makes the LED DayLite Wireless and Wireless Mini, which are also cordless. The Wireless Mini will fit on any frames or loupes. Even more exciting are the mini cameras that can be mounted on loupes for recording procedures or to show a patient something via a monitor.
There are exciting product developments out there for loupes. Hygienists who are looking to improve their posture and visibility have great options to choose from. Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list of loupes or accessories, but some helpful examples for hygienists to research.
Mary Govoni, MBA, RDH, CDA, RDA, is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and consultant, working with dental teams for more than 40 years on clinical efficiency, infection prevention, ergonomics, and team communication. She has published numerous articles in Dental Economics, The Dental Assistant Journal, RDH magazine, Dentistry Today, Inside Dentistry, and others.