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Protecting Your Eyes From Radiation

Protecting Your Eyes From Radiation

If you grew up in the days of cathode ray tube televisions and monitors, you probably got a lecture about sitting too close, lest you damage your eyes. As it turns out, Mom was onto something; CRTs did, in fact, give off small amounts of radiation. But anyone who works around X-ray machines in Michigan knows that X-ray safety protocols matter. In addition to radiology equipment and medical radiation shielding, it’s vital to ensure that you’re shielded, including — and perhaps especially — your eyes.

Radiology Equipment and Safety Solutions in Troy, MI and Beyond.

How Can X-Ray Exposure Damage Your Eyes?

Exposure to X-rays need not be prolonged to be damaging. Remember, the effects are cumulative, so repeated exposure even in very small doses can have adverse effects over time.

Signs of X-Ray Exposure

Even brief or low-level exposure can cause damage to exposed tissues. Because the eyes are more sensitive, you may feel pain or notice inflammation within one to three hours of exposure. You may even suffer first-degree burns or swelling. The most common form of eye damage, however, may not show up until much later.


Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. They can be corrected with surgery, but your best course of action is to avoid it altogether; this is especially true because the incidence of cataracts is much higher among X-ray techs than among the general population, and because radiation can contribute to cataract formation at a much lower threshold than the exposure limits established by the Nuclear Regulatory Committee, and by some estimations, even lower than the 150 mSv limit for exposure established by the ICRP.

Other Forms of Eye Damage from X-Rays

Radiation wreaks havoc on soft tissue, so it should come as no surprise that failing to protect your eyes from X-rays can lead to extensive damage.

  • Dry eye syndrome caused by tear duct damage
  • Blood vessel damage that leads to bleeding into the eye
  • Loss of eyelashes
  • Retinitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Eye cancer

How to Protect the Eyes from Ionizing Radiation

If you’re an X-ray technician, you probably take many steps to minimize patients’ exposure and ensure their safety. We encourage you to be no less diligent about your own safety. “Just this once” isn’t acceptable.

Proper protection is no less important if you’re not an X-ray tech. Fluoroscopic procedures call for protection as well, and staff in a variety of settings — doctor’s offices, clinics, or hospitals — should keep extra protective equipment on hand for those who are consulting, “just passing through,” or who will be around your X-ray equipment while it’s in use.

Regarding eye protection against X-ray exposure, there are multiple options available. Leaded glasses remain the industry standard since they perform well at attenuating exposure. Wear them — and look for models that feature side protection in addition to the shielding provided by the lenses.

Radiation Shielding and Medical Supplies in Troy, MI

As experts in medical imaging — and the protection of practitioners and patients alike — for more than 50 years, Great Lakes Imaging is a trusted source for radiology equipment, shielding, and a full range of diagnostic solutions. For custom medical equipment solutions, medical equipment installation, and more, contact us today.