The 5 Best Penlights for Nurses

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products we have discussed in this article, we may receive a small, and much appreciated commission.

Are you running late for your shift and just want my pick for the Best Penlight for Nurses?  Check out the Nitecore MT06MD!

An important tool in the medical field, the penlight should be versatile and reliable. Although penlights are often taken for granted as a pretty basic tool, you should consider several factors when choosing a new light. In this guide, I will discuss several of these factors and present a roundup of the best medical penlights. Check out my recommendation for the best penlight for nurses at the end of this article.

Here’s a quick list of the Best Penlights for Nurses:

Important Features of a Good Penlight

Medical professionals reach for their trusty penlight frequently. These lightweight tools are used for a variety of everyday applications, from testing pupil dilation to examining ears and mouths to checking out deep wounds. A variety of other uses come up on a daily bases, be it needing a light to check on patients at night or searching the deepest, darkest corner of a desk for a lost item.

Most penlights are very affordable in price, but be wary of prices that are too low to be true – it is important that a penlight is durable enough to stand up to frequent use. Buying one good quality penlight is much more efficient than buying multiple low quality, cheap lights. As a medical professional, consider these factors when searching for the best pen flashlight for your job.

For more information on flashlight selection in general, check out our Ultimate Guide to Picking the Best Flashlight

Color Temperature

The light in a penlight is provided by an LED, or light-emitting diode. LED bulbs come in a variety of colors, which can make a difference in the visibility and clarity of the penlight. The color of the light is decided by the energy of the photons that are created by the diode. Color temperature is how the characteristics of the light are described, both in color and on a temperature scale from 1,000 to 10,000 degrees Kelvin (K). The light produced by the LED in a penlight could range from cool or bluish in color (over 4,500 K) to warm or yellowish in color (under 3,000 K).

The color temperature preferred by a medical professional or by a patient may vary. For instance, cool, blue-toned light often appears more crisp and bright to the human eye, while yellow, warm-toned light is less harsh. For the purposes of examination – for instance, illuminating the interior of the mouth – cool-toned, bright light (on the higher end of the Kelvin scale) will illuminate detail well. When examining an eye, a warmer color of light will be less harsh on the eye, increasing patient comfort. Finally, be sure to look for the penlight’s color rendition index (CRI). Lights with higher CRI values show colors more clearly and accurately, while low CRI values indicate that the object will look washed out.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Flashlight Tint to learn all about how important Flashlight Color Tints are.

Brightness

One of the major uses of a penlight in the medical field is for testing the pupils of the eyes for dilation. When choosing a penlight for this purpose, the brightness of the light is incredibly important. If the light is too bright, patients will be blinded; if the light is too dim, it will not be effective in gauging pupil size and eye response. For this reason, many of the best penlights will have multiple brightness settings – another great feature is that the first setting when the light is flipped on is low, reducing likelihood of blinding unsuspecting patients. Brightness will be given in lumens, a unit that in penlights may range from 5 to nearly 200 lumens.

Our Lumens, Lux, and Candela article is a great resource to learn more about Lumens and light output

Ease of use

A penlight should be simple and easy to use – this is a tool that is meant to be uncomplicated. While some medical professionals may prefer multiple brightness modes, perhaps only one is necessary in your daily role. In any case, a simple push-button is a good feature to look for in a penlight. While it may be fun to have a penlight that can beam multiple beams of rainbow-colored light, consider ease of use on a daily basis – keep it simple!

Convenience

It’s a good idea to check out the clip on the penlight to make sure it is good quality. A well-attached metal clip will ensure that your penlight remains conveniently at hand. Plastic clips are more likely to break, causing you to lose your favorite tool in a moment when you may be in need of a light.

Reliability

Reading reviews can help gauge whether your penlight will be a long-term companion. A long battery life is ideal in a penlight – who wants to have to buy a new light every few months. You may also be interested in finding a penlight with replaceable cells or batteries. These can prove very cost-effective over time and you’ll never have to spend time researching penlight brands again!

Product Reviews

Nitecore MT06MD

Designed for use by medical professionals, this Nightcore penlight includes several features to enhance the safe and comfortable use of the light. These include a default low light setting to protect patient eyes when clicked on, as well as an LED bulb that limits harmful blue light reaching the eye. This hardy little light is durable, able to be submerged in water, and powered by replaceable batteries. Maximum run time at low mode is 35 hours, so you’ll get plenty of use out of this light before new batteries are needed.

Specs

  • Battery: 2 x AAA batteries
  • Durability: IPX8; impact resistance of 1.5 m; submersible
  • Beam tint: cool white; 5000 K in temperature
  • Modes: 3 brightness modes from 4 to 180 lumens
  • Candela: 860 cd maximum
  • Beam distance: 63 yds
  • Beam shape: tight
  • Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 in
  • Weight: 0.78 oz

Pros

  • Lowest brightness setting (4 lumens) clicks on first to avoid accidentally harming eye
  • Nichia 219B LED bulb: light eliminates blue light hazard
  • Bright enough to act as flashlight at higher setting
  • High CRI: colors are clearly distinguished and not washed out by light
  • Easy to operate with one hand: reverse-click tail switch to turn on and off
  • Stainless steel clip for security
  • Optional eye pupil chart printed on side of the light

Cons

  • Using high mode for too long may lead to overheating
  • Can be slippery as body of light is aluminum alloy
  • Some users report a flimsy clip

Streamlight Stylus LED Penlight

A handy tool for everything from checking for pupil dilation to inspecting dark places, the Stylus is lightweight and waterproof. A durable pocket clip will keep the light at your fingertips, and a ridged design reduces slip. This powerful little light is visible up to a mile away.

Specs

  • Battery: 3 x AAAA batteries
  • Durability: waterproof aluminum
  • Beam tint: cool white
  • Beam shape: tight
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 3 in
  • Weight: 1.6 oz

Pros

  • Two modes: momentary blink and constant “on”
  • Runs up to 60 continuous hours
  • Waterproof
  • Ridged body for good grip
  • Pocket clip keeps the light in reach
  • Attractive flame design – you won’t mix your penlight up with others!

Cons

  • Only one brightness mode
  • May be too bright for sensitive eyes
  • AAAA batteries are not commonly found in the battery aisle

ThruNite Ti3 NW Mini

This Chapstick-sized keychain light has the power and resilience to perform in a variety of roles, including in a medical setting. The light’s size and weight make it an easy companion to keep on a keychain or lanyard and its not-too-cool white light allows good color rendition.

Specs

  • Battery: 1 x AAA battery
  • Durability: impact resistance of 1.2 m
  • Beam tint: “natural” white (not cool)
  • Modes: 4 modes (firefly, low, high, and strobe)
  • Candela: 625 cd
  • Beam distance: 50 m
  • Beam shape: tight
  • Dimensions: 2.8 x 0.6 in
  • Weight: 0.42 oz

Pros

  • Tiny and lightweight
  • Multiple modes allow for illumination close-up or in the distance
  • “Natural” white light without blue tint
  • Sturdy aluminum construction

Cons

  • No switch – twist to turn on instead
  • No pocket clip
  • Great value for the price

Klarus P20

If your penlight is your most-used tool wherever you go, the Klarus P20 is a dependable, heavy-duty tool that you’ll get along with. Outfitted in a sleek tactical casing, the Nichia LED powering this light is super-bright, beaming up to 230 lumens at a high 90 CRI rating for accurate color rendition.

Specs

  • Battery: 2 x AAA batteries
  • Durability: impact resistant up to 1.5 m; waterproof
  • Beam tint: Cool white (5,000 K, high CRI)
  • Modes: 3 modes, 4-230 lumens
  • Beam distance: 65 m
  • Beam shape: focused (wider at a distance)
  • Dimensions: 5.24 x 0.51
  • Weight: 0.92 oz

Pros

  • Tail switch for single-handed operation
  • Stainless steel pocket clip
  • High CRI for good color rendition
  • Eliminates blue light damage to the eyes
  • Tactical look and feel

Cons

  • Beam is wider than is normal in a penlight
  • Pocket clip overly rigid
  • Gets hot with overuse

Opoway Penlight

The Opoway penlight is a basic but streamlined and durable light designed for medical professionals. Built of sturdy metal and coated with rubber grip, this light comes on at the push of a button and beams a comfortable yet effective 9 lumens.

Specs

  • Battery: 2 x AAA batteries
  • Beam tint: white
  • Modes: one mode
  • Brightness: 9 lumens
  • Beam shape: tight
  • Dimensions: 5.51 x 0.49 in
  • Weight: 5.22 oz (includes batteries and box)

Pros

  • Push button to click on
  • Metal clip
  • Tactile rubber coating for good grip
  • Includes batteries

Cons

  • No additional modes
  • 9 lumens brightness is ideal for eye exams but not for most other uses

My Penlight Recommendation

A penlight shouldn’t just be a penlight – many of these penlight recommendations feature multiple modes, tactical features, and easy-on buttons. However, my favorite penlight to recommend to nurses and others in the medical field is the Nitecore MT06MD. This light is small yet powerful, with three brightness modes and a max beam distance of over 63 yards. Use this handy tool for pupil exams, night rounds, or even as a backup flashlight!

Share on email
Share on print