Which penlight do you use? Incandescent or LED?

  1. 0
    I'm just curious on what you guys are using for your physical assessment. I would always hear this debate on which penlight is better and sometimes they make comments that the other is actually harmful.

    Incandescent:
    1. Better visualization of colors when assessing body tissues. (e.g. throat, eyes, etc.)
    2. Not harmful when used repeatedly in the eye.
    3. Drains the battery faster.
    4. Bulb gets busted easily when dropped.


    LED:
    1. Inaccurate color rendition especially in body tissues. (e.g. can't tell if jaundice or degree of erythema)
    2. Some says ( I actually have not researched if there is ) that it is harmful if repeatedly used in the eyes.
    3. Battery life longer.
    4. Bulb won't break unless you hammer it.


    Personally I am using the Incandescent one because I bought it cheap from Energizer.
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  4. 16 Comments so far...

  5. 1
    I'd go for the incandescent one, but I'm old-school..
    NurseOnAMotorcycle likes this.
  6. 0
    LED and I got mine at a conference, so I didn't pay retail. But mine is color corrected and it puts out perfect white light.
  7. 0
    Take the LED light and shine it in your own eye. Is it comfortable? I've done it and boy howdy did it hurt my eyes. I like the German reusable penlight. It is darn near indestructible and cheap in the long run. All I have to replace are batteries.
  8. 0
    LED: lightweight, tough, reliable.
  9. 0
    I was always partial to the free ones LOL But the one I bought was incandescent
  10. 0
    Honestly, I have one of each. I work in neuro, so you need a good one to assess pupils. I usually only use the LED one on pts who are intubated/sedated/etc to get a better assessment on someone who can't talk to me. I would never shine that LED light in someone's eye who is awake and conscious... that would be cruel.
  11. 0
    I have two: the big fiber-optic illuminator head that fits on my Welch Allyn otoscope/ophthalmoscope set (lab use only), and the little pocket LED light I carry in the department. The overhead lights in our EC are so bright that a plain incandescent penlight won't put out enough light to produce any kind of pupillary reaction. Most drug-company "cheapies" I've seen are pretty dim to begin with.

    As for LEDs being harmful to eyes, you'd need a much more powerful light source than anything in a pocket penlight, and you'd have to be shining it under very precise focus in the exact same spot for hours on end to cause a corneal or retinal burn. The harm, such as it is, is that an awake patient in a dim room (such that the pupils are naturally dilated) might yell at you for shining a perceived bright light in their eyes unexpectedly. (This is also why, unless you have severe cataracts, your optometrist or ophthalmologist will turn down the power setting on the slit-lamp and ophthalmoscope. Full power in a normal, diagnostically dilated eye is acutely uncomfortable.)
  12. 1
    My SIL is an Opthamologist. When I had this question she told me incandescent, the LED was too powerful and would cause discomfort.
    RelloydRN likes this.
  13. 0
    I use an LED and when I check pupil response I just don't shine it straight into the eye. I use the edge of the beam or hold the light at an angle so it doesn't focus on the patients fovea centralis. If it does leave a bright spot on their retina it will be in their peripheral field where it won't bother them much.


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