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Lack of Eye Protection in Cath Lab Could Lead to Cataracts

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 9, 2010

Interventional cardiologists and other workers in catheterization labs who don't wear protective glasses are exposed to surprisingly high levels of ionizing radiation to their eyes, resulting in changes linked to early stage cataract development, according to two studies.

One study in Malaysia found that the posterior subcapsular opacities of the eye lens were five times higher for exposed nurses and interventionalists who did not wear leaded glasses than for medical professionals who were not exposed to ionizing radiation. This first report is published in the August edition of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions.

Occupational exposures received during interventional cardiology procedures are the highest doses received by health professionals," the authors wrote. "With respect to ocular exposure, the increasingly larger
workload typical of many modern catheterization suites, a lack of training in radiation protection and unavailability or non-use of radiation protection for the face and head may result in doses to the eye sufficient to cause cataract."

The finding "indicates there's an urgent need to educate these professionals in radiation protection to reduce the likelihood of cataract," the authors say.

The second study, published this month's journal Radiation Research found interventional cardiologists and others in Montevideo, Uruguay and Bogotá, Colombia had a risk of lens changes more than three times greater than unexposed healthcare workers.

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