I’ve just started at optometry school and I have been advised to buy my own direct ophthalmoscope. There are several different types and I don’t know which one to get. What should I do?

Which direct ophthalmoscope is best? People often ask me this question. My response is to get your hands on as many as you can before you buy one. If you work in a practice with several eye specialists ask them if you can hold and use their direct ophthalmoscope. Ask them if they would buy it again. If you can go to trade exhibitions and head to the equipment suppliers. Hold and use as many different types of direct ophthalmoscope as you can. Weigh up the cost, weight, functions and feel of each one and make your choice. Trade exhibitions are good because there is usually a discounted price. If you are a student then take proof and show it. Sometimes students get further discounts.

If you are a student working in university or polytechnic clinics hold and use the direct ophthalmoscopes available in the clinics. My experience is that there are usually several types as the suppliers are keen for students to be exposed to their direct ophthalmoscope.

I did this and found that I preferred the Heine Beta 200 direct ophthalmoscope was right for me. I like its weight and its feel in my hand and it has all the functions I need. I bought in a package with a spot retinoscope and one handle. I could quickly swap the retinoscope and direct ophthalmoscope when required but when I could afford to I purchased another handle. Having two handles means that I am unlikely to run out of battery power. The chances of the batteries in both handles running out at the same time are low.

About five years after purchasing this package I the exact same package as it was useful to have two sets as I worked in two different practices.

Many of my colleagues use the Keeler direct ophthalmoscope and it is a fine piece of equipment but not as light at the Heine although it does have more functions.

When I was travelling in Ghana a soft bag fell out a minibus ahead of us. We drove over it. Inside was a Keeler direct ophthalmoscope and we could see the box looked a little distorted from the pressure of the wheel but the ophthalmoscope inside was not damaged and fully functional.

In short, my answer is whatever feels right in your hand, has enough functions and you have enough money to pay for it, is the best direct ophthalmoscope for you to use. Remember you will be using it a lot in the years ahead so choose wisely.

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