Tweaking the view

Today's smartphones function as portable entertainment centers, keeping people connected via email, text messaging, and social media sites.

by ANNE NUGENT GUIGNON, RDH, MPH

Today's smartphones function as portable entertainment centers, keeping people connected via email, text messaging, and social media sites. They allow us to make phone calls, take photographs, link to the Internet, and function as a personal assistant with pop-up reminders and alarms.

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The launch of a next generation device or a new technology platform becomes a news event with people lining up for hours to purchase the latest gizmo. Typically, new devices have increased functionality. Gadget gurus spend countless hours customizing their devices to reflect their own personal needs and interests. Along with adding custom apps and programs, people want the perfect case to be either highly utilitarian or a raging fashion statement.

Five years ago, my husband finally caved in and got a cell phone. He has about 10 numbers saved, sends no more than three text messages a month, takes the occasional photo when we're on vacation, and finally started using the alarm feature to remember details. My device functions as a phone, calendar, alarm clock, and calculator. It has no music, but it connects me to Google and stores my entire email file, which is neatly subdivided for every trip and course. My favorite apps are seatguru, Yelp!, and genius scan. I'm willing to bet your smart device is configured much differently than mine, loaded with apps that make your life easier.

Making personal custom adjustments to equipment is part of modern-day living. No one expects to take a smartphone out of the box and have it function to its fullest capacity. We're used to tweaking settings and adding apps that create a highly personalized device.

High-end custom magnification systems are basically the same. Companies go to great lengths to fabricate and deliver products that will deliver superior visualization and improve our clinical postures, allowing us to deliver excellent care with minimal strain on our bodies. When you're measured for custom TTL (through-the-lens) loupes, the company representative takes careful measurements that include pupillary distance, convergence point, and working distance. The frame selection determines the size and shape of the carrier lens, as well as the declination angle and the location of the oculars. Larger carrier lenses allow steeper declination angles. Custom magnification systems can include personal prescriptions and special filters for use with lasers, and be made with antiglare coatings.

So the big day arrives and you take your new pair of custom loupes out of their stylish carrying case. But what do you do if the system does not live up to your expectations? Don't panic or rush to the phone to get an RMA, a return material authorization from the company. Take a deep breath and realize that high quality loupes typically have sturdy frames that are fabricated with materials that can be adjusted to fit your face precisely. High quality frames are built to last. A minor adjustment is often all that is needed to gain superior comfort.

Everyone's facial geometry is different and we're not symmetrical. The bridge of your nose is a perfect example. Some noses are high and skinny while others are wide and flat. Most people have one ear higher than the other. Some people have high cheekbones, others have deep-set eyes, and some have very sensitive ears so any weight from a frame is hard to bear. Each of these issues can make wearing loupes a challenge. Selecting loupes that are mounted on a customizable frame is the answer. Flip-up loupes require the user to make all of the custom adjustments other than the working distance, while TTL units have custom measurements built into the system.

Plastic sport TTL frames may look stylish, but may not allow for custom adjustments. Frames made from titanium or carbon composite are lightweight and durable, and can be modified using a series of gentle bends that will not destroy the frame integrity. If your frame is made with an adjustable material, don't be afraid to make some minor changes on your own. A company's technical support team can often walk you through the process. Tech support people are experts in troubleshooting problems over the phone. They want customers to be happy with their purchases and use their magnification immediately rather than waiting for a service call.

Poorly fitting nose pads are a nightmare. Some loupes are made with built-in nose pads, which make custom adjustments to one's nose size and shape virtually impossible. Adjustable nose pads are made from silicone pads attached to a metal frame or a flexible material mounted on a sport frame. Pinching the nose pads closer together moves the frame higher up on the nose, while splaying nose pads farther apart lowers the frame on the face, accommodating those with flatter bridge profiles.

Titanium frames and those made from carbon fiber are the most forgiving and accommodate the widest range of adjustments. Both materials are flexible, which means the temples or frames can be bent up, down, in, or out, molding the frame to the shape of the head and ears. Minor adjustments to the temples or frames can optimize convergence, the point where you see one crisp, clear image.

Gently increasing or decreasing the angle where the temples attach to the front of the frame can change the declination angle of the oculars. Changing the declination angle necessitates readjusting the nose pads to ensure that you're looking through the center of the ocular, the location that provides the most precise optical clarity.

Adjustable temple tips are magical for two distinct groups. The weight of any frame, much less one supporting a pair of loupes, is just too much for some people. Carbon composite temples can be bent to fit the head snugly, bypassing the need for ear support, and in some cases, eliminating the need for a head strap. The temple tips on the titanium and carbon composite frames can be shaped to meet the user's ear anatomy, as well as to compensate for different ear heights.

We're used to customizing clinical protocols to fit the unique aspects of patient care. Learn to customize your magnification system to fit your facial geometry to create your ideal comfort zone. Quality custom magnification lets us shift our concentration to patient care, not on how tired and sore we become when our posture is compromised. RDH

ANNE NUGENT GUIGNON, RDH, MPH, provides popular programs, including topics on bioflms, power driven scaling, ergonomics, hypersensitivity, and remineralization. Recipient of the 2004 Mentor of the Year Award and the 2009 ADHA Irene Newman Award, Anne has practiced clinical dental hygiene in Houston since 1971.

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