Spermshopper.com reviews microscope types that are especially relevant to semen anaylsis and in-vitro fertilization.
Microscopes come in numerous shapes and sizes, fall into confusing overlapping categories, and with even more models and brands out there selecting the most suitable one for your needs can cause some head scratching. When investing hundreds or thousands of dollars it is important one to understand what design features and specifications are needed for particular analyses or procedures. Since working with semen samples is typically undertaken optically, Spermshopper reviews variants of optical microscopes, leaving aside the powerful electron microscopes.
In the life sciences, compound light microscopes are used for a broad range biological analyses. Several variants and adaptations to this core design enable the researcher to engage in certain studies and procedures.
No singular microscope is specifically dedicated to any particular analytical function, but in certain cases the limitations posed by one type or model mean that an alternative and specific design offers the only practical solution. Stereo microscopes are for example, the obvious choice for IVF procedures. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection (IMSI) require high resolution and high contrast microscopy.
Variants Of Compound Light Microscopes
The compound light microscope is the most basic and recognizable microscope design, and the most affordable, classically featuring a single eyepiece lens and objective lens. In compound light microscopes, higher magnifications are attained by rotating the objective turret to view the sample through one of three interchangeable lenses to observe biological tissues mounted on slides.
In addition to monocular, singular eyepiece compound light mircoscopes, are binocular compound light microscopes with two eyepieces which enable more comfortable viewing. Trinocular microscopes refer to those with an additional third eyepiece to enable simultaneous viewing by another person, or connection to a camera for screen viewing.
Aside from the optical classification of microscopes, the angle from which the sample is viewed presents further differentiation. Traditional upright microscopes are the most common arrangement with eyepieces set above the stage. As a general rule, upright microscopes are used for sperm preparation and semen analysis.
Contrastingly, inverted microscopes such as the AmScope IN480TC Long Working-Distance Inverted Trinocular Microscope, view the sample from underneath. Inverted microscopes tend to have the eyepieces in front of the stage rather than above it. The design of inverted microscopes means they are used for assessing sperm or egg morphology as they allow the objective lens to be closer to the sample (from beneath) and giving the researcher much more room to work with.
The illumination and temperature of the stage is especially important in semen analysis. Live semen analysis using microscopes fitted with cool LED lights prevent the sensitive samples degrading through heat exposure. Heated stages prevent a sample from cooling down, which would affect biological activity. With such illumination and heating one may ascertain whether a semen sample contains healthy sperm counts, morphology and motility.
Recommended Compound Light Microscopes
Compound light microscope recommendations include the upright AmScope PZ300T-5M, our top pick for with its 40X to 600X magnification for broad analytical applications, with polarizing and brightfield capabilities.
The OMAX 40X-2500X Full Size Lab Digital Trinocular Compound LED Microscope with 14MP USB Camera and 3D Mechanical Stage is powerful trinocular performer for a very modest price tag.
The OMAX 40X-2000X Lab LED Binocular Microscope with Double Layer Mechanical Stage, winner of the 2016 Best Compound Microscope Award, is a fantastic budget option for regular semen analysis.
Phase Contrast Microscopes
More advanced than the compound light microscope, the phase contrast microscope is the logical choice for more detailed semen analysis. Due to the laws of physics governing how light behaves, there are limitations on just how much detail one can see under great magnification through a compound light microscope. Put simply, phase contrast microscopes employ changes in the phases of light (by half of one wavelength) to create an optical effect that brings considerably enhanced resolution and contrast to the image.
Phase contrast microscopes eliminate the need for time-consuming staining of biological samples that would otherwise be needed in the life sciences. This illumination feature enables live specimens to be observed. The phase interference patterns mean that structures with a similar level of transparency are dramatically easier to discern, making phase contrast microscopes ideal for semen analysis or other cellular or bacterial studies. With their enhanced optics they are the microscopes of choice when studying semen motility and morphology.
Recommended Phase Contrast Microscopes
The Radical 2500x LED High Power Trinocular Medical Water Bateria Sperm Turret Phase Contrast Microscope w Live 1.3Mpix WIN MAC Camera, offers cystal clear imagery and trinocular capability for a very affordable price.
The highly popular LW Scientific i4S-SEB4-iPL3 i4 Semen Evaluation Microscope, was specifically designed with semen analysis in mind. This excellent microscope effectively covers everything required by semen analysts.
The Meiji Techno MT6300EH Halogen Trinocular Epi-Fluorescence Biological Microscope is a stellar top end phase contrast microscope recommended for specialized IVF procedures.
Stereo microscopes use two separate optical paths all the way to one objective lens, and two eyepieces to provide slightly different viewing angles to the each eye. This produces a three-dimensional visualization of the sample under examination. Stereo microscopes differ from binocular compound light microscopes which has only one optical path viewed through two eyepieces, providing a flat image and not stereoscopic vision.
Whilst other microscopes are fitted with interchangeable objective lenses for variable magnification, stereo microscopes are also distinguished by their zoom function. (Dissecting microscopes are identical in principle but with much lower magnification and used for dissecting or examining whole or large portions of specimens.) A stereo microscope’s adjustable magnification enables the observer to zoom in on the specimen rather than observe from one of three fixed magnifications. This flexibility enables the researcher greater working distance with depth perception, essential in meticulous IVF procedures.
Recommended Stereo Microscopes
The Meiji Techno America EMZ-13 is an excellent stereo microscope with a robust wide surface stand, highly accurate heating control (0.1°C) and 90mm working distance and making it well suited to first sortings.
The Zeiss Stemi 305 Stereo Microscope is obstensibly deisgned for educational purposes but is relatively low priced for a microscope of this quality. It boasts superb optics and its 1.2MP color camera can connect to any wifi router.
Microscope Functions For Semen Analysis
The functions of a microscope will dictate optics achieved and therefore its range of applications. In brief, when choosing a microscope for semen analysis or conducting assisted reproductive technology (ART) consider the following:
Examination and selection of live specimens requires heating stages
Upright microscopes are best for semen analysis and sperm preparation
Inverted microscopes are best to assess morphology of sperm and eggs
Sperm pre-selection requires polarization or DIC
First sortings are often performed with a stereo microscope
ICSI and IMSI require high resolution and high contrast microscopy
The Spermshopper Microscopes section offers a full spectrum of microscopes and associated equipment. Check our Medical & Scientific category for Cryogenic, storage, Educational and Vetinary products, and our Academic section in our Books category for essential reading.