Last updated on July 7th, 2020.
Fluoroscopy is an x-ray imaging technique that is commonly used for diagnostic and surgical applications. Fluoroscopes use x-rays to create real-time, moving images that allow doctors and surgeons to see some of a patient’s internal structures and witness the function of some internal actions (e.g. swallowing and the heart’s beating.) The earliest fluoroscopes were developed in the 1890s, shortly after the discovery of x-rays. Fluoroscopes with better image quality that allowed them to become commercialized were developed by Thomas Edison — yes, that Thomas Edison — in the early 1900s. Of course, the intervening century has resulted in vast improvements in technique, image quality, and safety.
The use of fluoroscopic equipment, however, is still the primary reason for the use of leaded safety glasses in surgical settings. While their use isn’t required by all surgical departments, leaded surgical glasses can provide much needed protection for the eyes of surgeons, technicians, and others who must work in close proximity to radiation emitting fluoroscopes. One study on leaded eyeglasses published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) showed that “On average, the use of leaded glasses reduced radiation to the surgeon phantom’s eye by tenfold, a 90% reduction in dose.”
Leaded Safety Glasses Protect Eyes During Surgery
As you can see, the use of leaded safety glasses can be incredibly beneficial for those who must work directly with radiology equipment like fluoroscopes. Leaded glasses, prescription and non-prescription alike, can help protect the eyes of surgeons, radiation technicians, and more. Eye protection is critical because even small doses of radiation can add up over time and create serious health problems. Many different parts of the eye are susceptible to radiation damage, including:
- Irises – The round colored shape that surrounds the pupil
- Sclera – The white outer layer that makes up most of the visible eye
- Lenses – A clear part of the eye that is responsible for directing and focusing light
- Conjunctiva – A mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye
- Retinal Blood Vessels – Tiny veins and arteries inside the eye
The most common vision problem associated with repeated radiation exposure is the development of radiation induced cataracts — essentially a clouding of the normally clear lens. Unlike naturally occurring cataracts, cataracts caused by radiation exposure tend to form on the back of the lens. Loss of vision isn’t always the first or even the primary symptom for patients in the early stages of cataract development. Some symptoms to look out for include cloudy or dim vision, “halos” appearing around lights, increased sensitivity to glare or light, difficulty seeing at night, faded colors, and a frequent need to update corrective prescriptions.
Who Should Wear Leaded Surgical Glasses?
Leaded surgical glasses should be worn by anyone who works directly with any type of radiation emitting equipment inside or outside of an operating theater. This includes surgeons, radiation technicians, nurses, dental assistants, and others. Leaded safety glasses can protect the eyes of these types of medical professionals from irreversible damage.
The types of equipment that necessitate the use of leaded surgical glasses include any CT image scanners, traditional x-rays, digital x-rays, interventional radiology equipment, or fluoroscopes that must be operated directly. Most medical facilities have very specific regulations in place regarding who is required to wear personal protective equipment like leaded safety glasses and when that safety equipment must be used. In our opinion, however, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Especially when it comes to your eyesight.
Why Leaded Surgical Glasses Are Necessary
Because of how they are used, fluoroscopes and other radiation emitting equipment used during surgery are generally operated directly rather than from a shielded control room. They also tend to be used in close proximity to surgeons, surgical nurses, anesthesiologists, and other members of the surgical team. These medical professionals should wear leaded surgical glasses to dramatically reduce radiation exposure to their eyes.
When talking about x-rays, primary beam radiation refers to the directed x-rays that are emitted by the equipment. Everyone know that they need to limit their exposure to this direct x-ray radiation. What many people don’t realize is that indirect or “scatter” radiation can be just as harmful as direct exposure. X-rays and other harmful radiation can bounce off of different surfaces including the patient, medical equipment, and surgical team. This scatters the radiation over a wider area, and indirect exposure is still dangerous. X-rays can scatter multiple times off of different surfaces, which means that line of sight isn’t even necessary for radiation exposure to occur.
When you must work directly with radiology equipment, personal protective equipment including leaded safety glasses are critical for protecting your eyes and vision. As a surgical professional, you should know that your eyes are more susceptible to radiation damage when your head is turned away from the radiology equipment. High quality leaded glasses, prescription and non-prescription, are quite effective at protecting your eyes from both scatter and primary beam radiation when you are facing the scanning equipment. However, if you must be turned away from the equipment during scanning — e.g. looking at a monitor in a surgical setting — you may want to invest in a larger style of leaded safety glasses that wrap around the sides and offer you extra protection. Remember, even low doses of radiation can add up to long term eye damage.
Buy the Best Leaded Safety Glasses From Kemper Medical
It may be tempting to use style and comfort as your only guidance when you select and buy leaded surgical glasses. That temptation is understandable because medical professionals who don’t like how their safety glasses look or who find them uncomfortable are far less likely to wear them as consistently as they should. Nevertheless, the type of protection you need should also be a determining factor so that your eyes are as safe as possible.
Here at Kemper Medical, we offer you a wide range of affordable leaded glasses. Prescription and non-prescription lenses are available to ensure that everyone can have the protection they deserve. To put it simply, you can buy cheap leaded safety glasses that still maintain a high level of quality. We carry the best brands in the industry and offer you the best prices so that you can afford the protection you need.
Don’t wait another day! Check out our selection of Leaded Surgical Glasses today so that you can find the perfect protection for you and your eyes.