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Can Loupes Help Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders?

ErgoPractice News – September 2017
By Jin Chang PhD

Oral health professionals, surgeons, and veterinarians spend their careers focused on the health of their patients. And all too often they neglect their own health in the process. Clinicians in these fields experience abnormally high rates of musculoskeletal disorders.1, 2 SurgiTel was founded 25+ years ago with the mission to provide clinicians with ergonomic vision systems that are designed to alleviate or eliminate musculoskeletal disorders. We have shared many stories from clinicians who alleviated or eliminated pain by using ergonomically fitted loupes which allow them to achieve an ergonomic posture.3, 4, 5

The first requirement for the best patient care is to see well. Our natural inclination to see better is to simply lean closer to our patients. Holding this type of poor posture is destructive, causing chronic pain or injuries.1, 2 Often loupes are recommended to help clinicians work better. But to truly “Work better,” requires both “Good Vision” and “Good Ergonomics.”

Can All Loupes Help Clinicians Work Better?

The answer is no. Traditional loupes were designed to help improve vision and thus often force users to excessively tilt their heads. This results in chronic neck pain and injuries.6, 7 Traditional loupes are the main cause of chronic neck problems in clinicians. Ergonomically fitted loupes support a neutral neck posture where the head tilt is less than 25-degrees (Figure 1). Manufacturing ergonomically fitted loupes is not easy but with advancements we have made in design and manufacturing methods, SurgiTel can offer ergonomically fitted loupes that support users in establishing comfortable working postures. Using magnification with a natural, upright posture and a head tilt less than 25-degrees provides both Good Vision and Good Ergonomics!

How Can We Identify Ergonomically Fitted Loupes?

Ergonomic fitting should consider users’ height/working distance, nose type, and working environment (sitting or standing). By taking two side view photos, a safe or dangerous head tilt angle can be identified. Declination angle, or “look down” angle, has been a way to judge the ergonomic effect of a loupe. Yet many companies measure the declination angle as the angle between the temple arm and the axis of oculars. This can create an artificially high number which the company will use to claim high ergonomic effect (Figure 2). But declination angle measured with temple arms is not consistent because the position of temple arms with respect to nose pads significantly varies. Instead of measuring features, you should simply measure the result. By measuring the head tilt you can truly determine if you are working ergonomically.

There are two essential companion products required to work ergonomically: headlights and stools. Headlights allow users to see inside body cavities without twisting. If clinicians are sitting, ergonomically designed stools will support an upright and comfortable sitting posture. Selecting the right headlight is integral to seeing better and protecting your eyes from an overly strong blue LED light. Some LED headlights emit far too much blue light. Not only does this distort the color of objects but it is harmful to the eyes.

How Can SurgiTel Help You Work the Best?

From SurgiTel’s continued research and development during the last 25+ years, we alone are able to offer truly ergonomically fitted loupes, both Front-Lens-Mounted and Through-The-Lens types. The working distance of these loupes can be easily adjusted by using working distance caps to maintain proper posture for various procedures and amplify the magnification effect by reducing working distance. SurgiTel also offers eye-safe, achromatic LED lights. The clarity of the beam is maintained throughout the entire working distance range and they are safe to the eyes.

If you or someone you know are interested in evaluating your working posture and trying SurgiTel’s ergonomically fitted loupes and eye-safe LEDs, find your local rep at or call us at 1-800-959-0153.



  1. Rucker, LM, Beattie C, McGregor C, Sunell S, Ito Y. “Declination Angle And Its Role In Selecting Surgical Telescopes.” The Journal of the American Dental Association 130, no. 7, 1999: 1096-100.
  2. Chitnis, Deepak. “Operating with Pain: Surgeon Workplace Injury Underrecognized.” ACS Surgery News 12.4, 2016: 1+. Print.
  3. Humphrety, Dee, RDH, BHSc. “My 6-year Clinical Career from Non-Ergonomic Loupes.” SurgiTel. April 2017. Accessed September 27, 2017.
  4. Darryl L Hatchett, DDS. “SurgiTel Delivered the Magnification I Wanted Without The Pain.” SurgiTel. June 2014. Accessed September 27, 2017.
  5. Raymond Singer, MD. “SurgiTel Saved a Surgeon’s Career.” SurgiTel. June 2013. Accessed September 27, 2017.
  6. Pulat, BM, Fundamentals of Industrial Ergonomics, Chapter 7: 177. Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc., 1992.
  7. Valachi, Bethany. Practice dentistry pain-free. Portland, Oregon: Posturedontics Press, 2008.,