Using the Microscope.
Settings for Relaxed Microscopy.
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Settings for Comfortable Microscopy.
Many people spend as much time each day working with a microscope as others spend working with their computers. Fortunately, more thought is now devoted to ensuring that working conditions and practices be optimized to reduce the fatigues and increase the enjoyments offered by the occupation in question.
In the case of microscopy, the bilateral symmetry of both the instrument and its operator determines many of the commonsense requirements for an optimized working space, which are largely personal and ergonomic in nature.
The physical arrangements of that working space aside, the main detractor from image quality and a major cause of eye fatigue in routine microscopy are the unwanted reflections of surrounding light sources in the many optical surfaces of the microscope -- most importantly those of the eyepieces.
If there is a window in the room, the microscope is best set up facing the opposite wall so that the eyepieces of the instrument are in the shadow of the operator's body. The microscope should be standing on a preferably dark surface to minimize reflections and glare from whatever local lighting is needed to provide working light levels. A well balanced anglepoise lamp with an easily accessible dimmer control is ideal.
Eyecups with extended side-pieces (such as bird-watchers have on their binoculars) fitted to the eyepiece/s of the instrument are very effective in enabling a reflection-free image.
A binocular viewing system is itself an aid to comfort as both eyes share their intensive task with much less strain than is often the case with a monocular microscope. Users of monocular microscopes should cultivate the habit of using each eye in turn, and of keeping both eyes open at all times. This is difficult at first, but the brain soon learns to ignore the image from the unoccuppied eye, and the task is made much easier if the ambient lighting level is lower than the microscope illumination.
The very worst situation would be a monocular microscope set up on a shiny white bench in a brightly lit lab with no lighting controls, and an operator who keeps one eye closed whilst the other does all the work.
The best situations begin with the ownership of your own microscope. Apart from anything else, one's home is usually warmer and more comfortable than most laboratories, and the grease-lubricated adjustments of a microscope run more smoothly in a warm setting. A comfortable working temperature also reduces the inconvenience of eyepiece misting and breath condensation on colder parts of the instrument.
In conclusion, it can be said that the possession of a good quality, well equipped light microscope, set up in a situation optimised for personal convenience so that any specimen which suggests itself may be examined quickly and easily, is one of the most rewarding luxuries a technological world can offer the intelligently curious person.