I have a vivid memory of the day in dental hygiene school when a single loupes company representative came to our school to show us their latest and greatest in dental loupes. I grew up in a dental office but I didn’t know much about loupes, why they were beneficial, and why I needed them during my last semester of dental hygiene school.
All my classmates gathered around the table where the handful of frame designs were laid out and carefully tried them on, picked their favorite color, and paid the $1,000 to acquire them. I was on a tight budget in school, and since most of my instructors didn’t have loupes, I decided not to purchase them right then and keep doing what I was doing in clinic.
Fast-forward one year out of dental hygiene school. Since graduating, I learned more about loupes and why they might be helpful for me in private practice. I was at a dental convention and started my search for the perfect pair. I ended up purchasing one of the first and only pairs I tried on and I loved them for several years. Lights weren’t a big thing at that point, so I bought only the actual glasses/loupes and didn’t get a light until a few years later.
After wearing that first pair for several years, it was time for something new. I decided to buy my second pair based on recommendations from students who loved them. Instead of doing my own research, I went with what everyone was buying at the time. Luckily, I ended up loving this pair as well and I still wear them regularly.
Looking back on my purchasing and lack of research when it came to loupes, I will definitely take a different approach to buying my next pair. There are several things I wish I had known to look into before making such a large purchase.
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What I wish I knew
- If you’re able to, try on the loupes with all the additions you’ll be getting, such as light and magnification. Trying on the frame alone won’t give you the proper feeling of what you’ll be wearing each day. The optics add a lot of weight, so even if the frame feels light on your face, adding the loupes will give them a different feel.
- Look into how to clean them. Each brand has different recommendations for how the loupes can be cleaned. Some companies say you’re allowed to completely submerge the glasses and oculars in soap and water. Some allow only certain wipes or cleaners, and only on certain areas of the loupes. Some recommend water only. If how you clean or sterilize your loupes is important to you, look at what the manufacturer recommends and make sure this aligns with how you want to clean.
- Check out the warranty. If you tend to break things, you might want to look at what the manufacturer offers in case of damage, and how long that offer is good after the purchase. Each brand has a different warranty and return policy, which is helpful in case you end up not loving or wearing the loupes like you thought you would.
- Of course, cost is a big part of the attraction to or rejection of loupes. They’re a big investment into yourself and career, and it can definitely take time to save for a pair. Ask salespeople about their prices of frames and loupes, any discounts, shipping, taxes, and more, to get a full picture of the final price tag.
- Ask around about who provides the best customer service. Even if loupes have a 30-year warranty, this won’t matter if the company doesn’t respond to you. When you buy loupes, check to see who to contact if you have a question or issue. Is it the sales rep or the company general customer service? Do they prefer a phone call or email? Knowing this will save you some back and forth when you need support.
- If you’re prone to headaches, get the lightest plastic frames possible. Even though these might not be the cutest pair on the table, they’ll be worth it after a few hours of wearing them. I really wanted a pair of black thick-rimmed loupes and I tried to wear them. After an hour, they were too much on my face and I ended up switching to a sport frame with built-in side shields. These weighed a lot less and were more comfortable for me.
- Get the loupes custom fit at a dental convention or by a sales representative. Having someone physically measure you makes a big difference in your loupes and your ergonomics as you wear them. This assistance can provide custom feedback as well, let you know if your declination is correct, and tell you what’s going to work or not work for your face and head.
Purchasing loupes can be an overwhelming but exciting process. The result is so worth it! You’ll notice how much better you’ll practice and treat your patients with that second pair of eyes.
What's something you wish you’d asked before purchasing your loupes? Check out what I learned about eight popular brands.
Editor's note: Since this article's initial publication in July 2023, Q-Optics provided some corrections to its product information (updated in the clickable chart above).