Lead Glasses protect your eyes from radiation during diagnostic imaging procedures. The following guide helps healthcare professionals to select the radiation glasses that fit and protect your eyes.
Any healthcare professional working with radiation on a daily basis already knows that protecting your body and eyes against x-ray radiation is crucial to avoid or minimise potential harm to long-term health and well-being.(1)
Employers of medical organisations typically emphasise radiation safety as key from day one of your employment or even before. Though it is concerning that many hospitals and other medical organisations do not provide lead glasses to their medical staff despite the evidence of radiation causing harm to the body and eyes when unprotected (2). Generally, the hospitals provide lead aprons to protect the body. However, lead glasses are usually not part of the compulsory radiation protection outfit. In many cases, medical staff just do not wear lead glasses (because they are simply not provided) or they must buy them individually out of their own pocket.
Your eyes are among the most sensitive areas of your body, and when you work with radiation, also tend to be the most exposed. Wearing leaded eyewear is just as important as wearing a lead apron.
But do you know just what type of radiation eyewear suits you best to make sure you get the protection you need? This article provides a guide for healthcare professionals on how to find the right lead glasses that not only protect them against radiation, but also comfortably fits their faces; factors that are crucial ensuring that your eyesight will not be permanently damaged.
If you’re shopping for leaded eyewear, here’s what you should pay attention to:
1) Understand Your Radiation Protection Needs
To find the right lead glasses, it requires a good understanding of your radiation exposure which defines which model of lead glasses give you the best protection. Therefore, the exact exposure to potential radiation is crucial: if it is only straight ahead, you might be able to use different glasses than if the radiation comes from multiple angles. The best way to find out about your exposure is to speak with your supervisor or radiation safety expert such as Medical Physicist and Radiation Safety Officer.
2) Check the Level of Radiation Protection
2.1 Lead Equivalence
The most important factor is to check the lead equivalency (LE) of the leaded lens of the radiation glasses which is basically the protection thickness of the leaded lens. The Australian Radiation and Nuclear Protection Association (ARPANSA) have made a series of recommendations specifically related to Radiation protection of the eyes. They recommend lead glasses with 0.75mm lead (Pb) equivalence and the use of side shields to insure adequate protection from radiation exposure. (3)
2.2 Side Shields
Look for radiation glasses that offer lateral protection of the eyes to provide wraparound protection. The recommended LE for leaded side shields is 0.50mm Pb.
2.3 Type of frames
There are basically three kinds of lead glasses that provide different levels of protection.
Wraparound Lead Glasses offer ‘wraparound’ protection at the front and around the side of the eye. Depending on the curve of these frames, they do usually not require additional side shield protection.
|Semi-Wraparound Lead Glasses provide front protection and some side protection (‘semi-wraparound’). It is usually recommended to add leaded side shields for additional lateral protection.||
‘Flat’ Lead Glasses are ideal for many prescription types and scripts. However, they only provide front protection. If you choose a flat leaded glasses frame, make sure they feature side shields where leaded side shields can be attached to offer wraparound protection for your eyes.
|Provides limited choices for prescription leaded lenses due to the wraparound curve.||Good for most prescription leaded lenses||Ideal for all prescription leaded lenses.|
3) Factors that influence your comfort
Choose a pair of lead glasses with the lowest possible weight which may increase your comfort especially during long diagnostic imaging procedures, for example in Catheter Laboratories. Radiation protection eyewear is naturally heavier than standard safety eyewear. The lead in the lens is the heavy part. The bigger the leaded lenses are, the heavier your lead glasses will be. The weight of lead glasses can range from 55g to about 100g.
Furthermore, prescription lead glasses can be slightly or significantly heavier than non-prescription lead glasses, depending on the person’s script. This is the case especially for bifocal and progressive lead glasses as the lenses are laminated and thicker as a consequence. The higher your prescription is, the thicker and the heavier the leaded lenses will be. As every script is unique, only an estimated weight range can be given which is usually between an additional weight of 5 to 20grams.
The traditional way of determining the right size of your lead glasses is usually through the frame measurements provided by the manufacturers. They recommend on their websites what pair of lead glasses suits what type of face shape; small, medium, large, or extra large. This can sometimes be hard to gauge by simply looking at the product photos using a size description.
You can check if the product pages include measurements about the lead glasses frames, such as frame width, bridge size, length of temple arms, lens width and height. If that’s the case, you are most likely be able to compare the frame measurements of the lead glasses with either a pair of your sunglasses or prescription glasses to gauge whether the lead glasses frame will fit your face shape.
VIRTUAL TRY ON
An innovative way of finding out if the lead glasses will fit you is using the new ‘Virtual Try On’ Technology. This virtual tool is widely in use for choosing the right sunglasses online, but only one radiation protection company has started to offer this technology to healthcare professionals making it easier to select the right radiation glasses online.
The Virtual Try On allows you to ‘try on’ lead glasses options online and instantly see how you look with the lead glasses on. You can virtually experience the fit of lead glasses as it responds to your movements and allows you to see how the glasses look at different angles, on any device in real time. The size of your face is determined by the information you provide such as your gender or pupillary distance (which is distance between the centre of your pupils). Entering your pupillary distance (PD) provides the most accurate fit for your face.
3.3 Possible Add-on’s
Let’s be honest, lead glasses are not the most comfortable pair of glasses to wear. But they are a necessity to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of radiation during diagnostic procedures. Different companies may offer all or a selection of the following lens coatings as well as other features to increase the wearer’s comfort.
- Padded nose bridge and/ or rubberised temple arms to help increasing wearer’s comfort and reducing the impact of weight on the nose.
- Side Shields (if not already included) to provide lateral radiation protection for your eyes.
- Custom-engraving of name or phone numbers on temple arms for identification purposes
- Anti-fog coating (usually a permanent lens coating) to minimise fogging.
- Anti-reflective coating (usually a permanent lens coating) to reduce glare and lens reflections.
4) Trial Options to experience fit and weight
Once you have determined which lead glasses you like best based on your research (prescription limits, weight indication, face shapes, frame measurements, possible add-on’s) it’s time to confirm that the lead glasses of your choice are comfortable to wear and fit your properly.
Ask companies who sell radiation protection eyewear if they offer the following trial options:
a) A Virtual Try On helps choosing the right lead glasses by trying them on virtually, showing you online how the lead glasses look and fit. (Refer to 3.2)
b) A real Product Trial helps ensuring you are happy with your choice and investment. You can experiencing the actual weight and comfort of your lead glasses by trialling lead glasses at home or in your workplace for a period of time to make.
For the following three reasons you should insist on some sort of try on or trial:
The lead glasses provide maximum radiation protection for your eyes: lead glasses that fit you properly, provide higher radiation protection.
- Ensure the nose piece of the lead glasses fits securely and comfortably on your nose.
- The frame of the lead glasses should fit closely to the side of your head which will also allow the glasses to stay on during medical procedures.
The lead glasses are comfortable to wear
- Manage your expectations and experience the weight of the non-prescription trial leaded glasses. Scripted lead glasses can add a little bit more weight, depending on your individual script.
Ensure you are happy with your choice & investment
- Some lead glasses can be pricy, so you want to make sure you have invested in the right pair of lead glasses that you will actually wear to protect your eyes from radiation.
If companies do not offer product trials, find out about the manufacturer’s return policy. Check if you can return your purchased lead glasses if you are not happy with them.
5) Repair Services & Warranty
Before purchasing radiation protection eyewear it’s worth finding out about return policies, terms of warranty, insurance options and repair services of the manufacturer or supplier.
As industry standard, most companies offer a 1-year warranty on materials and workmanship. Some may even offer two years. The Warranty guarantees your lead glasses to be void of defects in both material and craftsmanship which includes the leaded lenses and the frame. However, note that warranty usually doesn’t cover cracked or broken leaded lenses, for example when you drop them. Leaded lenses are very fragile and can easily break when you drop them.
Check if companies offer any insurance or repair services for your lead glasses. It can be expensive to buy a new pair of radiation glasses. Repair services include replacement of cracked leaded lenses or prescription leaded lenses with new leaded lenses which gives you the benefit of keeping your frame and minimise your cost as you don't need to buy complete new lead glasses.
Follow this guide and find lead glasses that ticks all the boxes.
|For your Protection||Lead Equivalence: 0.75mm Pb|
|Side Shields: 0.50mm Pb|
|Type of Frame:|
|For your Comfort||Find lowest possible weight|
|Virtual Try on|
|Padded nose bridge/ temple arms|
|Trial Options||Virtual Try On: Experience look and fit online|
|Real Product Trial: Experience actual weight|
|Services & Support||Return Policies|
(1) Linet MS, Kim KP, Miller DL, et al. (2010), Historical review of occupational exposures and cancer risks in medical radiation workers, Available online https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21128805?dopt=Abstract (25/08/2021)
(2) ICRP (2011), Statement on Tissue Reactions, Available online: http://www.icrp.org/docs/2011%20Seoul.pdf (26/08/2021)
(3) ARPANSA Fact Sheet, Improving Eye Safety in Image Guided Interventional Procedures (IGIP), Available online, March 2015, (26/08/2021)