Original Research

Radiation induced cataracts in interventionalists occupationally exposed to ionising radiation

André Rose, William I.D. Rae, Margaret A. Sweetlove, Lumko Ngetu, Mohamed A. Benadjaoud, Wayne Marais
South African Journal of Radiology | Vol 26, No 1 | a2495 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajr.v26i1.2495 | © 2022 André Rose, William I.D. Rae, Margaret A. Sweetlove, Lumko Ngetu, Mohamed A. Benadjaoud, Wayne Marais | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 June 2022 | Published: 30 September 2022

About the author(s)

André Rose, Center for Health Systems Research and Development, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
William I.D. Rae, Prince of Wales Hospital, Faculty of Medical Imaging, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Margaret A. Sweetlove, Department of Medical Physics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Lumko Ngetu, Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Health, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Mohamed A. Benadjaoud, Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), Fontenay-aux-Roses, France; and, Department of Radiobiology and Regenerative Medicine (SERAMED), Fontenay-aux-Roses, France
Wayne Marais, Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Health, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Occupational exposure to ionising radiation may have detrimental health effects. Longer and more complex fluoroscopic procedures have placed interventionalists at increased occupational health risks especially for developing cataracts in the radiosensitive lenses of the eyes.

Objectives: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of occupational related cataracts and describe the risk factors for cataracts in occupationally exposed interventionalists compared with unexposed doctors.

Method: A cross-sectional study using multiple methods. A survey was conducted. The radiation workload was determined based on a self-administered questionnaire and dose area product values determined in previous studies. Both groups had slit lamp examinations. The data were analysed analytically using R software version 9.3.

Results: The study included 98 interventionalists. The combined prevalence of posterior sub-capsular (PSC) and cortical cataracts was 18.8% in the exposed and 13.9% in the unexposed group. The prevalence of PSC cataracts in the exposed group was 5.9% and 2.8% in the unexposed group, with an odds ratio (OR) of 2.2 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.58; 8.61). Posterior sub-capsular cataracts were more common in the left eye. The increase in cataracts was not statistically significant in the exposed group but is of clinical significance.

Conclusion: The findings are important as they highlight the need for greater vigilance for protecting the radiation healthcare workforce in a developing country setting.

Contribution: The research is the first of its kind in South Africa and Africa and contributes to determining the prevalence in this highly skilled and occupationally vulnerable group.


Keywords

interventionalists; interventional radiology; ionising radiation; radiation cataracts; radiation protection

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