A medical penlight is a portable handheld lighting device used in the medical field by doctors, nurses and paramedics.
It is aimed at facilitating the performance of routine examination of certain areas of the human body that require extra illumination – the eyes, the throat, the nose, and the ears (Source).
All medical professionals need reliable penlight. Hence, it should be bright enough to give the medic a clear insight into the examined area, but not so bright that it blinds the patient.
It should also be durable, yet portable, and affordable. If you are looking for a new medical penlight, start your search with our list of the top five medical penlights.
Best Medical Penlight For Nursing Students
This medical penlight by Welch Allyn is one of the best on the market. With its bright, white halogen light and solid brass body, it is sure to not only be effective but also to last for years.
However, some users may find it a bit too heavy because of its durable and solid brass construction. On the other hand, that just means this model is designed to survive the occasional drops and bumps it could experience and keep working as if nothing has happened.
Additionally, with the exception of lamps and batteries, the company will repair or replace any defectively manufactured parts for free, as long as you can prove it wasn’t due to misuse, neglect, damage in shipment or normal wear.
This penlight is not to be used for transillumination as burns could result. The use of this instrument in the presence of flammable anesthetics is strictly forbidden, too. Moreover, note that penlights are not toys and should be kept out of the reach of children.
Reliable On-Off Switch
Notably, its on-off switch is fantastic. You can be sure that this penlight will never turn on accidentally because you need to pull the switch to turn the penlight on. Anyone that borrows it will probably be confused and not ask to borrow it again.
Easy To Use
Likewise, you can activate it one-handedly, which is critical when your other hand is managing the patient’s eyelids.
Lastly, although the light is slightly uneven, a product of the antique halogen bulb (you can see the reflection of the filament coils), the color is good and true. It is bright enough to elicit a pupil response in most patients. Moreover, it is powered by a pair of AAA batteries that are readily available.
- Durable metal body
- Reliable illumination
- Easy to use
- Relatively high retail price
Our number three contender is not a single device, but rather a pack of six disposable penlights, meaning that when one of them stops working, you just drop it in the nearest receptacle and move on.
Each disposable penlight is five inches long and measures half an inch in diameter. However, the six-piece pack is offered only in white and the penlights have no pupil gauge.
A Budget-Friendly Solution
This solution is perfect for the medical professionals who are prone to losing their penlights or having them borrowed by coworkers. For them, it may not be money-wise to spend a large amount of cash on a penlight.
Long Battery Life
However, despite being disposable, this set has an impressive battery life. This is partially due to the difficulty of turning it on by accident, which saves a lot of energy. Although these disposable penlights are not as bright as most other models, they are still bright enough for simple eye checkups and use incandescent light for excellent tissue color rendition.
This is a penlight solution that most nurses will find helpful, though medical doctors may find it a bit dim for their specific needs.
Pocket Clip Switch
Lastly, the 351 series features a sealed concentric beam. These disposable diagnostic penlights are activated by depressing the pocket clip.
- Long battery life
- Easy to use
- No pupil gauge
3. Prima care DL-9224 Disposable Diagnostic Penlight
The penultimate spot on our list is again for a pack of six five-inch disposable penlights. This time, they are offered in different color schemes and look quite cute. The Primacare disposable diagnostic penlight set is easy to use and affordable. Additionally, each disposable penlight produces a sealed concentric beam and has a pinpoint lens to illuminate the eyes, ears, and throat of the patient.
Moreover, each of the penlights in the pack has a lightweight, molded plastic body and a high-quality, long-lasting, and energy-efficient standard bulb. It is fitted with a pocket clip for portability and for activation of the light alongside a pupil gauge printed on its body.
The manufacturer vows that these penlights will keep working for months or even years and that you’ll find it hard to believe that they’re disposable.
Colors For Your Every Mood
Finally, whether you’re a medical practitioner who wants the color of their medical tools to match that of their uniform or just someone who wants more color in their life, these colorful quality penlights are perfect for you. The pens come in Red, Blue, Orange, Green, Black, and White.
- Pocket clip/switch typically slides to side
- User has to bend clip back after random pocket insertion
4. Patterson Medical 563531 High Intensity Pen Light
For those looking for a sleeker and more stylish penlight, there is the Patterson Medical High-Intensity Penlight. It is five inches long with a 0.5-inch diameter and a chrome-plated body.
This device runs on two AAA batteries and produces a nice, bright light, but not blindingly bright. For extra convenience, it comes with a pupil gauge and measurement tool, making it a great penlight for nurses.
- A bit too heavy
This model features stealth black finish and 180-lumen, cool white, second-generation LED light. It is made of aircraft-grade aluminium alloy and stainless steel. Its Impact-resistant glass lens with dual-coating – sapphire coating on the outside and anti-reflective coating on the inside – is designed for optimal efficiency and durability.
Power Supply And Options
Moreover, it is powered by two standard AAA batteries, with three output modes: low, medium, and high, which give this penlight a significant advantage over its single-mode rivals. This model also has a memory function that remembers the last setting it was on the last time you used it.
This penlight is 5.3 inches long, weighs 0.8 ounces, and measures 0.5 inches in diameter. Its compact size means that its continuous use is less likely to cause fatigue.
- Compact size
- Premium manufacturing
- Top class lens
- Three power modes
- Shipment defects have been reported
Factors To Consider When Buying A Medical Penlight
If you are in need of the best penlight for doctors, nurses, or any other medical professional, here is what you should bear in mind when shopping around for one of these:
It should preferably be small in size, so that it easily fits in the medical professional’s pocket. Additionally, it should be portable and comfortable to hold.
Different Light Modes
We strongly recommend that you pick up a penlight with an adjustable power option. Usually, these models have three modes of operation: bright, medium, and low.
These devices work like this: a full click turns the device on and off while a half-depth click cycles between high, medium, and low output. Then, a full click returns to light intensity level last used.
If your job demands that you examine dozens, even hundreds of patients a day, then it is advisable that you buy one of the six-pack solutions discussed above. The penlights in the pack are made of durable plastic and, although their performance is slightly below that of their more expensive rivals, they offer excellent value for your money.
On the other hand, if you have a private practice and examine only a few patients a day, then maybe you should pick up a stylish and more presentable model. These models are generally a bit heavier and more expensive, but the quality they offer is second to none. Most of them are made of solid aviation-grade aluminum alloy.
Medics can often find themselves in very harsh and even life-threating circumstances. In many cases, the primary tool that gives them a quick grasp of the patient’s current status is their medical penlight. So, you need to choose your penlight wisely. Pick up one that you can trust no matter when and where you need to use it.
As Doctors and nurses often need to respond to emergency calls and rush to examine patients on site, their medical penlight should be able to resist rain, dust, cold, or hot weather. We encourage you to check if the model you have picked up has some weather resistance before proceeding with the purchase.
The lenses of the medical penlights are made of high-quality optical glass and most of them are pre-focused, which greatly facilitates the process of examination. The frequency of the light emitted by your medical pen depends on the design of its lens. All of the products on our list have well-designed lenses and deliver excellent illumination of the examined area.
The Pupil Gauge
Although many doctors, nurses, or EMTs say they seldom, if ever, need a pupil gauge, we strongly recommend choosing a medical penlight model that has one. Some of the medical penlight models reviewed above have a pupil gauge printed on their side.
Most medical penlights are powered by batteries, but some models aren’t very power-efficient despite looking stylish. We recommend that you go for a model that has a great light output and at the same time does not consume too much power.
Manufacturers of some disposable penlights brag that the inbuilt batteries of their devices last so long that you will actually forget that you are using a disposable device.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s the average size of penlights?
They’re usually two to five inches long. Additionally, they often come in either plastic or metal, and two or three batteries.
Q: What is a penlight used for in medical settings?
Medical professionals use penlights to analyze their patient’s throats, mouth, nose, eyes, and wounds.
Q: Why is it important that pupil size changes?
Usually, it means that your eye is working the way it should when your pupil size changes. It could also tell your doctor or nurse about your medical status.
Q: What is a pupil gauge used for?
Pupil gauges are there for comparing a patient’s pupil size against a black circle. Usually, pupils measure about 3.5 mm in diameter.
Ready To Buy The Best Medical Penlights?
For many nurses and doctors, their medical penlight is much more than a simple examination tool. Some medical professionals prefer models that they won’t regret losing or having broken, while others tend to regard their penlight as a symbol of their high status.
No matter which group of medics you fall into, you are now armed with tons of useful information to go out and buy the model that you think will work best for you. A big “Thanks” for reading our review and happy shopping!