Advantages of Loupes and LED Headlights for Veterinarians

ErgoPractice News – May 2023
By Jin Chang PhD


Veterinarians may often find themselves leaning to get a better view of their patients, making loupes and LED headlights an essential tool. These devices can help improve the accuracy of procedures, reduce eye strain, and provide better illumination to see more clearly.1 Loupes allow veterinarians to see details that would otherwise be impossible to detect with the naked eye. However, not all loupes and LED headlights are created equally. In this month’s ErgoPractice News, we will discuss some of the benefits that loupes and LED headlights offer and considerations to take when purchasing.

Benefits of Loupes and LED Headlights

As a veterinarian, your patients unfortunately cannot speak to you to tell you what ails them. This makes having a magnified view even more important so you can make a more accurate diagnosis and provide better care for your patient. Loupes allow veterinarians to see details such as small, lesions, parasites, and other abnormalities that would otherwise be difficult to detect with the naked eye. Dr. Avery Bennett found that the ability to visualize tissues, small organs, blood vessels, etc. in small patients such as birds, reptiles, rabbits, ferrets, and rodents was increased. And found loupes useful in “intricate procedures such as perineal urethrostomy, cleft palate repairs, ureterotomy for stone removal, hemilaminectomies for removing slipped intervertebral discs, and many many more.” Another benefit of wearing loupes is improved ergonomics. Properly designed loupes allow the clinician to sit upright with the head above the shoulders and a neck tilt of less than 20-degrees, to prevent neck pain or injury.2 However, it is noted that improperly designed loupes can be a main cause of chronic neck pain.

LED headlights are a crucial tool for veterinarians, providing many benefits that can improve their work and patient outcomes. One of the most significant advantages of LED headlights is that they provide bright, focused lighting directly onto the area being examined or treated. This makes it easier for vets to see subtle details and perform precise procedures when using alongside loupes. In addition, many LED headlights come equipped with adjustable brightness settings or filters, allowing for customization of lighting conditions according to specific needs or preferences.

The trend these days is for surgeons to use headlamps rather than overhead lights. The illumination is superior and the light is directed where the surgeon is looking. Overhead lights are a constant hassle having to move them trying to direct them where the light is needed. The LED light with the SurgiTel loupes provides excellent illumination into the body cavity of small patients such as the pigeons we use in the labs. It provides a balanced color spectrum that helps the surgeon see different tissues in an appropriate light. No more poor lighting and desiccated tissues!

Dr. Avery Bennett, DVM

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Considerations in Choosing Loupes and LED Headlights

Vets have a variety of procedures. Because of this, many vets may have up to two pairs of loupes. One at a basic 2.5x magnification to primarily help you work in an ergonomic posture and keep your face a safe distance from the operating area. The other at a higher magnification for more detailed operations. An example of needing a higher-powered loupe is when you’re working with small animal dentistry and small animals in general. Higher magnification can help you to identify certain conditions at an earlier stage. Another consideration is what style of loupe, Through-The-Lens (TTL) or Front-Lens-Mounted (FLM). TTL loupes have a fixed declination angle (or viewing angle), and are ideal for those working on smaller animals, while FLM loupes have an adjustable viewing angle that makes it ideal for working on larger animals.

I have a 2.5x pair of through-the-lens loupes for day to day work, and also a pair of 3.5x for more detailed work, including felines and endodontic procedures.

Dr. Rachel Perry

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One consideration when selecting loupes is the magnification level. Loupes come in a variety of magnifications, ranging from 2.5x to 10.0x (Figure 1). The higher the magnification, the more detail a veterinarian will be able to see. However, higher magnification levels have a smaller field of view. This can limit the clinician’s ability to accomplish tasks that demand a larger field of operation. For a more in-depth explanation of loupe magnification, view our December 2022 ErgoPractice News.

Figure 1: Example of loupe magnification

Working Distance

Working distance is defined as the distance from the eyes to the work area.3 The most common problem is that the distance is often measured too short, which results in excessive neck flexion or hunching.4 Working distance should be tailored to the individual, for example, the working distance for a shorter clinician will be smaller when compared to the working distance of a very tall clinician. A discrepancy of just a few inches can have a significant impact on your comfort and health. It is recommended to increase magnification for longer working distances.

Declination Angle

Declination angle is the angle that your eyes are inclined downward toward the working area. This angle should be steep enough to help you attain a comfortable working position with a minimal forward head posture of 20-degrees or less. The farther the head is positioned forward to see through the loupes, the greater the strain on the neck muscles and discs.3, 5, 6 The predominant problem in regards to declination angles is insufficient, small angles that force the operator to assume an unhealthy working posture.3

Figure 2: Neck posture and spinal stress

To avoid this insufficient declination angle, have your local representative take a side view photo of you while you are looking at the operating site through the demo loupe when you are ordering your new loupes. You want to see yourself with a more upright posture, looking downward at a steeper angle. Even though declination angle is one of the three essential ergonomic factors when purchasing loupes, most clinicians do not know how to correctly measure it. This allows many companies to incorrectly measure the declination angle by using the angle between the axis of loupes and the temple arms. However, the true declination angle is measured between the axis of the loupes and a line connecting the top of the ear and the corner of the user’s eyes. Therefore, without a user, the true declination angle cannot be determined. Figure 2 shows how some companies use a temple arm reference line to overinflate their achieved declination angle.

Figure 3: Misrepresented declination angle claims

LED Headlights

Beam Quality

SurgiTel’s patented multi-lens system generates achromatic beams in our LED headlights. The achromatic, multi-lens system mixes all wavelengths of the LED light so they spread out evenly. Uneven beams often have bright central spots, which make it difficult to perceive the details throughout the entire beam area. Also, note that brightness is not equal to quality! An overly bright central spot will produce a great amount of glare, which is counterproductive to perceiving detail.

In order to see best, a light must produce a uniform beam (Figure 3). If a beam is uneven, we will perceive a spot of overly bright glare in the center, with a dim lack of detail on the periphery. A beam with a clear edge makes this easy for the clinician to control and prevent.

Figure 4: SurgiTel’s patented multi-lens, achromatic light optics system allows for a uniform beam.

Enhancement of Anatomical Features

Cool light is helpful for surgical procedures as it enhances the image of veins and nerves. Because red tissues absorb most of the blue light, medical and veterinarians face less of a blue light hazard. If you are a veterinarian who specializes in dental, a warm or neutral LED will be better suited to reduce your blue light hazard from the light reflecting off the teeth. SurgiTel recently released two new Surgical LED headlights, Click Here to learn more about them.

Lightweight and Long Battery Life
A long-lasting battery is very important for long surgeries or procedures. You should not have to worry about the battery of your light running out. This is why our new Surgical Mini LED and Surgical Headband LED 2.0 have a battery life of up to 12 hours. The ideal surgical LED headlight should be lightweight so as to not cause pain or add any unnecessary additional weight. Our Surgical Mini LED light is lightweight at only 14.6 grams and does not sacrifice brightness. The Surgical Mini LED light is 100,000 Lux with a Kelvin temperature of 5,700 to help enhance anatomical features.

Left: Surgical Mini LED on ArmorFlex frame. | Right: Surgical Headband LED 2.0.


  1. Wingo, Kipp. “Purchasing Veterinary Surgical or Dental Loupes.” The Vet Dentists, August 11, 2022.
  2. Somrak, Amy. “Ergonomics for Veterinary Dentistry.” College of Veterinary Medicine, February 9, 2021.
  3. Valachi, Bethany. “Magnification in Dentistry: How Ergonomic Features Impact Your Health.” Dentistry Today, April 1, 2009.
  4. Valachi, Bethany. “Neck Health: The Three Ergonomic Criteria for Loupes Selection.” Dental Economics. Endeavor Business Media, September 1, 2008.
  5. Cailliet, Rene. Neck and Arm Pain, 3rd ed., 74-75. Philadelphia, PA: F A Davis Co, 1991.
  6. Rucker, Lance M., Craig Beattie, Cathy McGregor, Susanne Sunell, and Yutaka Ito. “Declination Angle and Its Role in Selecting Surgical Telescopes.” The Journal of the American Dental Association 130, no. 7 (July 1999): 1096-1100.
  7. Hansraj, Kenneth K. “Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head.” Surgical Technology International 25 (November 2014): 277–79.