When a healthcare professional works with radiation equipment, they must wear radiation glasses or other radiation protective eyewear. Without adequate protection, they can be at risk for cataracts, pre-cataract lesions, glaucoma, retinal damage, and dry eyes.
Lead glasses are a common protective eyewear option for medical professionals. They are designed to reduce scatter radiation and protect the eyes during fluoroscopy procedures.
Radiation Glasses Reduce Exposure
Lead (Pb) acts as a barrier to ionizing radiation, such as X-rays and gamma rays. This prevents the absorbed energy from causing damage to your body.
Essentially, the atoms in lead are tightly packed together. That means they are much harder to penetrate and get through. Using an analogy, imagine trying to kick a ball across a field.
The same way that traffic cones block a ball from getting to the other side of the field, lead blocks x-rays. When a x-ray travels through lead, its electrons scatter and absorb the radiation. This stops the x-ray from causing damage to your eyes and other parts of your body.
The lenses of radiation lead glasses attenuate x-rays that pass through them, preventing much of the harmful radiation from getting to your eyes. This keeps you from experiencing any of the serious side effects that can result from repeated exposure to x-rays, including cataracts, cancerous lesions or tumors, retinal radiopathy and glaucoma.
In a study performed on anthropomorphic patient and surgeon phantoms, we measured the amount of radiation a phantom surgeon’s eye received from sixteen fluoroscopic pelvic and hip views during a surgical procedure with and without leaded glasses. On average, the use of leaded glasses reduced the surgeon phantom’s lens dose by tenfold.
We also evaluated the effectiveness of three different types of leaded eyewear on reducing the operator’s eye radiation dose during clinical FGIs. Using luminescent nanoDot detectors (Landauer, Glenwood, Ill) below the operator’s left eye in each of the phantoms’ ocular spaces, we compared standard leaded eyewear, eyewear with built-in leaded side shields and a modified eyewear design.
Radiation Glasses Prevent Eye Damage
Radiation lead glasses attenuate radiation exposure and prevent eye damage by stopping a majority of x-ray radiation from entering the eye. This attenuation is the result of interactions between x-rays and matter that include absorption and scatter.
A study has shown that wearing radiation protective eyewear reduced the amount of x-rays entering the eyes by 5-10 times. This is a significant reduction in dose that will protect your eyes and reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as cataracts, pre-cataract lesions, retinal damage, glaucoma, dry eye, and blindness.
Cardiologists, radiologists, and other healthcare professionals who work with x-rays are at significant risk of damaging their eyes without proper radiation protection. Consistent exposure to low dose radiation (LDR) over the course of a career puts them at an increased risk for cataracts, glaucoma, retinal damage, dry eye, and even blindness.
Comfortable Radiation Glasses
Radiation lead glasses are lightweight and comfortable to wear. This makes them a better choice than metal-framed glasses that can feel heavy after long periods of use.
Choosing radiation eyewear that fits well and stays on during procedures is crucial for comfort and safety. Adjusting a pair of metal-framed glasses by pushing on the bridge can stretch the nose pads and earpieces outwards, making it difficult to keep them on.
A pair of radiation lead glasses that are light-weight and with a soft rubber nose bridge are superior options for comfort. Some brands also offer adjustable earpieces that can help ease weight on the ears.
Radiation lead glasses can be hard to keep clean, so using a microfiber optical cloth specifically made for your type of lens is recommended. You can also use a spray cleaner to remove surface particles and prevent fogging on coated lenses. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your radiation eyeglasses.