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Back problems abound in dentistry, but according to ergonomic specialists, this does not have to be the case. Loupes, a longtime favorite of dental professionals, need to be properly configured just like the rest of your equipment. To learn more about how long lenses can improve your posture and prevent future musculoskeletal issues, continue below.
Avoid neck and back strain while improving efficiency by having your loupes adjusted properly
Long lenses, which protrude from a pair of loupes, are a staple of the dental profession, but their ergonomic functions are often overlooked.
A study by The New York University College of Dentistry revealed that musculoskeletal disorders cause approximately one-third of early retirements in dentistry. Properly configured loupes could prevent these injuries by encouraging correct posture and head position.
“I have found that the single most effective ergonomic intervention that improves existing pain syndromes are flip-up loupes with vertical adjustability,” says founder of Posturedontics and dental ergonomic specialist Dr. Bethany Valachi.
Adjusting the angle of declination on your loupes can prevent excess neck strain. If you feel neck pain and use traditional through-the-lens loupes, consider getting them refitted and professionally adjusted. You can manually adjust the angle of declination on flip up loupes, but be sure to consult the manufacturer for guidance based on your body dimensions and individual needs. Loupe manufacturer SurgiTel suggests adjusting the angle of declination so that your neck bends no more than 15 degrees from vertical while practicing.
Optical specifications such as working distance and depth of field should also be tailored to promote good posture and prevent long-term changes in spinal curvature. Changes in the spinal curve can not only cause long-term pain and discomfort, but prevent your spine from being able to naturally absorb shock and maintain proper balance, according to 100percentChiropractic.com.
Working distance — the length between your eyes and operating area — can significantly affect your spinal curve. If your working distance is too short, you may hunch over to get a clear view. Likewise, a long working distance can cause hyperextension. Your local representative can measure working distance in your office when fitting you for loupes.
Depth of field is the closest and farthest you can deviate from your working distance while maintaining a clearly visible operating area. It may not be necessary to purchase lenses with a long depth of field if you typically perform procedures that require few position or chair adjustments. If you perform many different types of procedures or frequently change chair height and positon, a large depth of field range can prevent hunching over or hyperextending.
“Headaches from glasses occur when the muscles in your eyes are trying to resist a change in vision that can come from just your glasses or a new prescription,” says Brooke Cheney of prescription eyewear manufacturer Classic Specs.
Eyeglass prescriptions should be incorporated into your loupes to prevent headaches caused by frequent transitions between prescription eyewear and loupes. Contact your loupe manufacturer every time your eyewear prescription changes. The manufacturer can adjust your loupes with the updated prescription, which will improve visibility and prevent eyestrain. If you do not use prescription glasses, consider regular visits to an ophthalmologist or optometrist to detect any changes before they affect your quality of care.
Bonus tip: Minimize intervertebral disk compression and negative long term effects by changing your sitting position every 30 minutes!