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Binocular Indirect vs. Direct Ophthalmoscopes

The ophthalmoscope is the more frequently used ophthalmic instrument for any optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist. The ophthalmoscope is critical in the examination of the retina and the vitreous humor, the gelatinous liquid between the retina and the lens. Although the tool is simple, the conditions that an ophthalmoscope can uncover are diverse. Ophthalmoscopy is frequently used with patients complaining of headaches to identify problems like swollen discs and using a simple ophthalmoscope you can detect raised intracranial pressure and arterial hypertension which can be symptoms of much more serious conditions in the body. Additionally, ophthalmic professionals can see "cupped" optic discs which are often seen in glaucoma cases and can regularly assess the ocular conditions of diabetics to prevent diabetic retinopathy or diabetes related vision loss.

There are two main types of ophthalmoscopes, direct and indirect. Direct ophthalmoscopes are simple hand held ophthalmic instruments consisting of a concave mirror, a light source, an eye piece for the ophthalmic professional conducting the examination and a simple handle. Almost everyone in America who has been to a standard medical practitioner or ever had an eye exam has come into contact with a direct ophthalmoscope.

Indirect ophthalmoscopes are then broken into two subcategories that include binocular indirect ophthalmoscopes and monocular indirect ophthalmoscopes. Monocular indirect ophthalmoscopes offer a high level of magnification and a wider field of view than a traditional ophthalmoscope, but they only offer one view of the interior of the eye. In order to accurately assess a patient's fundus and ocular condition you'll probably have to have them look in multiple directions.

Binocular indirect ophthalmoscopes project three elements into the eye, rather than one, allowing the optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist to get a 3 dimensional rendition of the interior of the eye which allows for a more thorough examination. Binocular indirect ophthalmoscopes are typically head mounted and some are designed as teaching aids so that lead ophthalmic practitioners can show procedural and diagnostic information to students while conducting the ocular examination.

When making your ophthalmic instrument buying decision, you need to consider the many patients you'll be seeing the level of diagnosis you'll need to achieve with each patient. While patients coming in for a simple checkup, you may only need the simple view of a direct ophthalmoscope whereas when you are working with patients that may have more serious conditions, the binocular indirect ophthalmoscope may help you diagnose more accurately and prescribe better care. Most people find that for the money, a monocular indirect ophthalmoscope is similar in value to a binocular indirect ophthalmoscope but without the features, so they frequently opt for the binocular indirect ophthalmoscope to get better value.

If you are having trouble making your ophthalmoscope buying decision, don't hesitate to call us here at We can help you assess the needs of your ophthalmic practice and make sure you make the right buying decision based on your budget, your needs and with an eye towards your ultimate profitability.