Frenzel goggles and related devices

T. Hain, MD

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Frenzel goggles are extremely useful in evaluation of patients with vestibular disorders. In essence, they consist of the combination of magnifying glasses (+20 lenses placed in front of the patient), and a lighting system. When Frenzel's goggles are placed on the patient, and the room lights darkened, nystagmus can easily be seen because the patients eyes are well illuminated and magnified, and because fixation is removed as the patient can hardly focus through magnifying glasses on a dark room.

Frenzel, a German physician, should not be confused with Fresnel, a German physicist. Although I am sure you could use Fresnel lenses in Frenzel's goggles, to my knowledge, nobody has yet done this.

ENG displayNote that video-eye movement recording systems (see picture to right), such as those sold by Micromedical Technology (Chatham IL, USA, 217-483-2122) are usually preferable to Frenzel goggles. Video systems provide a mechanism of recording the examination and also are more educational for patients, spouses and students. Video goggles eliminate vision entirely, compared to Frenzel goggles which merely obscure vision. In the author's view, this is a very important advantage. They cost considerably more (about $4000).

The best of all worlds is to have a portable Frenzel goggle that one carries around for consults, and a fixed video Frenzel goggle for the clinic.

Anyway, there are four sources of the real Frenzel glasses that I am aware of which are discussed below: