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Magnification loupes and lighting enhance performance - if you make the right choices. They should improve the quality of your work because they allow you to see better. They should become an unnoticeable extension of your capacities without interfering. They should allow you to work ergonomically in comfort.
This guide will help you make the right decisions for a successful outcome with your loupe and lighting purchases.


Loupe design - Through-the-Lens (TTL) vs. Flip-Up:

TTL custom-made loupes will provide maximum comfort, performance, and ease of working. The button of the ocular should be large and placed closest to the eye. A larger button and lens system has to be of highest quality hi-index glass to minimize the weight of larger optics. A smaller button is sometimes used since it less expensive to produce, but it won't offer the same comfort and adaptability. Quality custom-made TTL loupes are manufactured specifically to the user's facial dimensions, magnification, and prescription needs - and they never go out of adjustment.

Flip-Up loupes are off-the-shelf products that can only be favoured in very few situations, as performance is reduced. Users requiring frequent prescription changes can lower costs and down-time by using flip-up loupes, as prescriptions can be changed by a local optician. However, if these users work with contact lens, they can use TTL loupes without any prescription. In cases where loupes will be shared between 2 or more users, a non-prescription flip-up loupe can be shared amongst users. Another situation favouring flip-up loupes may be those users that cannot determine a proper declination angle for working. Flip-up loupes are easily adjustable and allow the users to make declination changes, however many users have difficulty in setting them up correctly and they can easily go out of adjustment. When eye-strain and neck strain are both considered, the realistic range of declination angles is quite small and whatever adjustments are conceivable can be done post-purchase, through angulation of the temple arms of a quality TTL loupe.

ttl vs flip-up

ttl loupes vs flip-up loupes

loupe barrel sizes

Quality of Optics and Prescription carrier lens:

All manufacturers will state that they are using quality lens. It is generally accepted that the highest quality optics are German, however most manufacturers won't state the country of origin of their optics on their web sites. This highest quality optics will offer highest resolution, will be free of optical and color distortion, and will be manufactured in very high index glass to minimize weight. Quality lens coatings will increase light transmission by eliminating reflections and will result in a brighter image. Your eyes will see the difference when trying on different pairs of loupes.

If the user is integrating prescription eye-wear into TTL loupes, the quality of the prescription lens will not only affect the peripheral vision, but also the vision through the ocular, as the prescription is also inserted in the ocular. Quality name-brand prescription lens are expensive and any loupe manufacturer that uses them will state the manufacturer's names in their printed materials.

When considering the prescription “button” that is inserted into the ocular, highest quality manufacturers will only use the optical sweet spot of the prescription lens. Some manufacturers will cut costs by cutting several buttons from different areas of the same prescription lens, but this results in a variance in optical quality from loupe to loupe.



The biggest issues with frames are design, function and cost. Opting for highest design appeal without consideration for other factors may result in a disappointing experience with TTL loupes, as satisfaction with closely related to frame stability and adjustability. Plastic TTL frames are the worst as they are the least stable and least adjustable. There are many cases of plastic frames warping after a year of use. Flimsy metal frames are not stable and even if well adjusted, they can easily go out of adjustment.

Frames that are designed for function will offer users high stability and adjustability (post-purchase adjustments are possible by the manufacturer's technical representatives), however some may be heavy and uncomfortable for extended wear, or may offer poor balance and weight distribution. Higher Keplar magnification is heavier and requires more precise adjustments; therefore the most stable frames are recommended to maintain performance.

In conclusion, a user should look for a stable, comfortable, well-balanced frame that will hold up to years of wear-and-tear, and meets the esthetic requirements of the user. The best frames will be designed specifically for loupes. Quality titanium frames can be esthetic, stable, functional and are ideal.

Width of field and Depth of field

Field width is the size of the operating site when viewed through the loupes. Field depth is the range of focus delivered by the loupe, or the distance that the user can lean in or out and still remain in focus. Higher quality optics manufacturers strive to provide users with the best combinations of features for the specific procedures.

In addition, other factors play a role in these characteristics. If loupe users do not have additional LED lighting, their pupils will dilate, reducing depth of field. LED lighting is mandatory with higher magnification and many experts consider it essential with any magnification. (see lighting section)

Users under the age of 40 naturally experience a larger depth of field as their eyes have not lost their ability to accommodate.

For a given optical design, the higher the magnification, the smaller the width of field. Higher quality products in higher magnifications will be able to offer wider fields of view, or lightweight higher magnification, that is not accessible with economy models.

cosmo loupes frame - reddot

fields of view

Prescriptions, contact lens, and peripheral vision:

When using loupes, it is possible to have most prescriptions inserted into the loupes to offer the user maximum performance. Some models of frames that have higher curvatures (sports frames), may have limits in prescription possibilities, or may require additional inserts, which must be worn along with loupes.

If a user normally wears contact lenses with single prescription, they can be worn with loupes, and loupes can be ordered without prescriptions. However, if this user decides not to wear the contact lenses, the loupes will not work correctly as the focal distances and other factors may be affected.

It is imperative to have a recent eye test prior to ordering loupes. Small changes in vision are often not perceivable by the user, but custom-made loupes are designed to work at specific distances, and the manufacturing process is based on corrected eye-sight. All prescription considerations will be integrated into the loupes.

A technical loupe representative will be able to advise users on the effects of prescriptions for peripheral vision, such as communication with others, writing tasks, viewing instruments, using computers, etc.. This is most important for users over the age of 40.

Over 40 and the lack of accommodation:

As the eyes age, they lose their ability to focus at a closer range (process of accommodation). If one is myopic, this process may be delayed as the natural focal point is closer, but it is still necessary to have a recent eye exam to ensure that loupes will operate at the correct working distance.

Diopters vs. magnification power:

There is sometimes confusion between diopters and magnification power. The diopter is a measurement of refractive power and applies to a single corrective lens. For comparison, a prescription of +8.0 diopter, this is approximately a magnification of 2.0. This single lens magnification also offers very limited magnification, depth of field and lower resolution.


Ergonomics, posture, eye strain and neck strain:

One of the main benefits of working with loupes is an immediate improvement in posture. Modern operating techniques require precision and the eyes are the primary instruments that deliver information to the brain. Without loupes, users tend to work in crouched, uncomfortable positions that will lead to chronic lower back and neck pain.

Dentists have an additional issue to deal with compared to other medical professionals, because their patient's mouths are not only too far away to perform quality work, but they are at a difficult operating angle.

Because of this angulation, there is a delicate balance between neck strain and eye strain that must be reached to offer a comfortable working position.

To reduce neck strain, loupes must be positioned in the oculars at the ideal angle. Frames can have angulation built into the carrier lens and temple arms, oculars are inserted into the carrier lenses at a determined angle, and further adjustments can be made post-purchase. A loupe specialist should be able to guide you in this process and advise you on standard angle recommendations.

A few manufacturers have been able to successfully insert prisms into their loupes. Prisms will bend light and allow the user to “cheat” on the angle of operation. A user may gain 10 degrees with a well-designed loupe and this may make the difference in working pain-free.


Magnification types, ranges and possibilities:

Loupes are manufactured using variations of either Galilean or Keplerian lens systems.

Magnifications up to 4.2:
A Galilean design is lightweight and offers easier adaptability, sufficient width of field and superior depth of field. There are significant differences in the specifics of the lens systems of different brands that affect clarity, resolution, depth and width of field, reflections, etc. (see quality of optics section)

Magnification up to 5.7:
These loupes are manufactured in Keplerian designs. Most manufacturers produce Keplerian products and these are the accepted standard for higher magnification. Sizes and weight do vary as does optical quality.

Galilean models have not offered sufficient performance to be used in higher magnifications until recently. Products are available today that will allow users higher magnification.

Magnification 6+:
It is generally accepted that users looking for higher magnification have more performance from a microscope.

LED line-of-sight Lighting:

Additional illumination is mandatory with higher magnification and many experts consider it essential with any magnification. Due to the physics of magnification and light, since there is a smaller field width of light entering the eye, the field appears darker. Taken to the extreme, consider a microscope, where even though the field has adequate lighting with the naked eye, everything appears black, unless a powerful light illuminates the extremely small field being magnified.

In addition, when operating with low magnification loupes without additional LED lighting, the user's pupils dilate due to reduced light, reducing depth of field. With higher magnification, still less light enters the eyes, and the need for lighting increases. A simple demonstration of lighting products will confirm this.

A new generation of LED lighting systems is now used universally in most applications as they are free of attachments to a plugged in light source and highly portable. They are also less expensive to purchase and don't require the frequent bulb changes of previous generations of products.

Lights should offer sufficient intensity and of the right color. Lights that are too bright will simply cause the eye rods to shut down and offer no benefit. Lights that are not bright enough will not be practical as magnification increases.

Light colors range from blue, to white to red. There is no objective consensus on what is best, but opticians tend to favor colors away from blue, as ultra-violet is the most damaging color for the eye. Some manufacturers favour bluish lighting as it is what appears brightest. Some procedures require color evaluations and therefore a whitish light is preferable.

loupe magnification 2.8

loupe magnification 5.0

led light

loupe curing filter

Consideration should be given to how the light will be fixed to your body. Some lights require specific headbands, while others can be connected directly to loupes. In this case, consideration has to be given to the overall weight, balance and comfort for the user.

If lights are connected directly to loupes, the user should evaluate how easy it is to connect and disconnect the light. It should easily center on the operating field without shifting. Some users may have different brands of magnification loupes, or would like to use the light with regular prescription glasses only. Some brands offer these possibilities.

It is important to note the charging time, working time, and the ability to working while charging. Lights should also offer several intensities.

As with all products that undergo the rigors of daily use and charging, warranties and repair considerations are important to some. Some brands offer low-cost replaceable batteries while others require purchase of a complete control unit. Some offer repairable cables while others require complete lens replacements.  Warranty programs vary considerably between manufacturers.

Satisfaction guarantees, adjustments or changes, and warranties:

In some cases, a loupe and light purchase is service-intensive due to the high number of factors that go into custom-making loupes. It is important to deal with someone that can service your needs post-purchase. Users will be wearing loupes for extended periods and may sometimes discover that they need changes in working distances, adjustments to the frames to realign the oculars, frame corrections, and many other local services.

Users should know what happens if the loupes don't offer the anticipated performance. What is the warranty? What is the satisfaction guarantee? What happens if the user needs a new working distance?


With all the considerations that go into custom-manufacturing professional magnification loupes and lighting systems, there are obviously big disparities in prices. These prices vary with the decisions that the manufacturers make in determining what quality of components will be used.

ExamVision products cost more - because every decision that affects quality and manufacturing costs is made to enhance quality.