What is the Right Magnification for Me?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
ErgoPractice News – September 2018

When purchasing a new pair of loupes, every clinician asks themselves “which magnification do I need?” In this month’s eNewsletter I wish to propose a different question that might result in a more accurate answer.

Assumptions and Shortcuts for Loupe Magnification Choice

Many clinicians make the assumption that whatever their colleague is using is what they should be using. Yet, unless your colleague is your identical twin, your distance away from your patient will indeed change the impact of your magnification choice. You probably also have a different working style and preferences than your colleague. Loupes are too custom to make the “I’ll have what she’s having” type of order!

Often, clinicians will choose a magnification level because it seems “good enough.” Typically, the “good enough” magnification is the 2.5x power which is the “standard” that started in the 60s. Imagine, if all clinicians kept all the clinical practices from the 60s! This is not to say that 2.5x is the wrong magnification for you, but it may not be the right one for you either. From 2.5x to 8.0x (Figure 1) there are plenty of other options. If you wish your work was better than “good enough” you may wish to use different selection criteria.

Clinicians trying a higher magnification may tell me “I won’t be able to get used to that.” I feel they are underestimating themselves! Humans are the most adaptable species on this planet and our eyes are very adaptable. Consider this case of how our perception adjusts: Have you ever put a new ‘big’ TV in your living room thinking you’ll never get used to how big it is? Then 6 months later you wonder how your ‘big’ TV seems to suddenly look small!? Human beings are great at getting used to things; loupe magnification included. Clinicians nearly universally purchase higher magnification powers over time. Choosing a lower magnification is a rare occurrence.

So, if none of these strategies can help us determine our best magnification choice, how can we make this important decision?

An Alternate Question

I was speaking to Dr. George Grayson of Ontario, Canada. We were discussing an alternate way to determine the “right” magnification for a clinician. I credit and thank Dr. Grayson for helping me see this alternate perspective.

First, two facts.

  1. The higher the magnification, the more detail you see. From micro-fractures in teeth to small blood vessels in the body, both are more visible with a higher magnification.
  2. The higher the magnification, the smaller the visual field. The visual field of your loupes is how far left and right you can see, and how close to how far you see in focus. Magnifications from 2.5x to 3.5x have more generous fields, while higher magnifications have a smaller area of focus.

Thus, the question you should ask is: “What is the size of the area I work in?” Then, when trying out different loupe powers at your working distance, you can choose the highest power option where you can still see all or more of your working area. Final result: you maximize the detail of your work while maximizing the ease and speed of your work!

Because of the prevalence of assumptions and shortcuts as mentioned above, I am sure a large number of clinicians are not maximizing the benefits of their loupes.

Are you seeing more field then you need to? If so you are seeing less detail than you could! Please take some time to evaluate your loupes, and share this test with your colleagues to examine theirs.

Thank you for reading my proposal. Please let us know if you have any questions. If you would like to see all the magnification options that may maximize visual acuity and the ease of your work, please contact your local rep at Find a Rep.