How do loupes work?

Our dentists answer some of the most common questions concerning loupes.

What are dental loupes?

Put simply, loupes are a pair of magnifying telescopes on a glasses frame. By providing the user a magnified view of their operating field, clinical work becomes easier, more efficient and safer. Loupes are popular with dentists, surgeons, beauticians and vets. 

The telescopes can be attached to the frame in two ways:

Flip Up Loupes

In flip up loupes, the telescopes are mounted on a cross bar which is attached onto the front of the glasses.The position and angle of these telescopes is adjustable by the user.

TTL Loupes

TTL (through the lens) loupes have the telescopes fixed directly within the lens of the glasses.

How do dental loupes work?

Loupes provide a magnified view as a result of the refraction of light through a series of lenses, which are found in the loupes telescopes.

how dental loupes work

Light refraction

A lens is a piece of glass or plastic with curved sides, which concentrates or disperses light rays. Both glass and plastic lenses exhibit similar optical qualities, however glass lenses are typically heavier. Lenses are used in all kinds of optical equipment, including cameras, our own eyes – and dental loupes.

As in the image, when light (coming from the left) hits the lens, it converges to a single point behind the lens. This is known as the focal spot, or focal point.

When an individual observes an object whilst looking through the lens, the object looks much larger than it actually is. This is because the direction of light is changed, so that the rays of light look like they are coming from a point closer to the individual than they actually are.

Light refraction in dental loupes lenses

To put this into context, here’s how magnification is achieved using dental loupes:

1. The tooth is being viewed by the user

2. External light (eg from the lights in the room) is reflected off the object, allowing us to see it (or else it would appear black)

3. This reflected light hits the lens (within the telescope of the loupes), causing the light to refract

4. This refracted light then passes through the pupil of the eye (another lens)

5. The light is focused onto the retina, allowing for image production by the brain. The focal point is therefore found on the retina.

Because the loupes lens has changed the direction of light, the object appears to be closer than it actually is. This allows smaller details to be seen upon the tooth surface.

how dental loupes work

The focal length determines the magnification of your loupes

Surgical and dental loupes vary in magnification, starting at 2x and increasing to 8x. Microscopes can provide even higher levels of magnification.

This range of magnification is achieved by varying the number of lenses used. The closer the focal point is to the lens, the more powerful the magnification. In order to ensure that higher magnification loupes can be used at the correct working distance, more lenses are used resulting in a longer telescope.

flip up loupes 5.0x magnification

What effect do lenses have on my dental loupes?

The properties of the lenses will affect the use of your loupes:

1. Plastic lenses are lighter in weight and therefore more comfortable than glass lenses

2. Larger lenses allow more light to pass through into your eyes than smaller ones, giving you a brighter image. This is evident in our TTL HD loupes. If you are not planning on using a loupes light, a larger lens is particularly advantageous.

How are dental loupes made?

Dental loupes are made as a result of years of experience. The correct manufacturing equipment, processes, frames and lenses are needed to ensure a viable pair of loupes.

With TTL loupes, for example, the glasses frame is cut according to digital analysis for the telescopes. The telescopes are then fixed into the glasses using a rapid cooling process, adhesive, or a combination of the two. 

Getting this process right is essential to ensure comfortable vision for the end user.

See what we can do for you

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