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Galilean vs Prismatic Loupes: What’s the Right Choice?


In dentistry, there is much that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Accurate diagnosis and treatment are often reliant on performing precise, delicate operations and being able to assess tiny yet clinically relevant visual details. Even things that can technically be seen unaided benefit from magnification as it can preclude eye strain and inaccurate assessment.

Surgical operating microscopes are one option for visual enhancement. They provide exceptional magnification (between 5-20x) and co-axial illumination. The downside, however, is that they are not portable and must be connected to a power outlet.

In order to observe microscopic details with acuity and clarity, most practitioners use loupes of either the Galilean or prismatic (also known as Keplerian) variety. Loupes help you avoid eye strain while allowing for free head and body movement.  While choosing the right loupe is dependent on your magnification needs, when combined with a head-mounted, battery-powered LED light both designs provide excellent mobility and effective visualization.

Loupes with Galilean lens systems contain a set of two lenses—a concave eyepiece lens and a convex objective lens. Together, these lenses produce a clearer image than a single lens and offer sufficient width of field and superior depth of field. Galilean loupes are available in magnifications between 2.0–3.5x and their lightweight design, adaptability and affordability make them ideal for general dental and surgical work.

For higher magnifications and greater clarity, prismatic loupes are the standard. In contrast to Galilean, prismatic lens systems consist of two or more positive convex lenses. These lenses are generally made for magnifications in the 3.5x–6.0x range though Keplerian loupes up to 8.0x exist. At lower price points, prismatic loupes are heavier and offer limited width of field. More expensive loupes are made with high index, lightweight glass making them easier and more comfortable to use. They also provide superior width of field and offer fine adjustments for depth of field.

To learn more about loupes, explore options and purchase them for your practice, visit Orascoptic’s website.

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