Radiation Protection Glasses: An Overview

May 2, 2023

radiation protection glassesWhen working with radiation in medical settings, it is important to protect the eyes from dangerous levels of exposure by wearing radiation protection glasses. Proper use of these protective glasses helps prevent damage to the lens of the eye, which can lead to conditions such as cataracts, retinal detachment, glaucoma, blurry vision, and other significant problems. 

In this article, we will examine the effectiveness of radiation protection glasses, why they are necessary to be worn during certain types of medical procedures, how to protect your eyes from radiation, different types of radiation glasses, and how to choose the right radiation protection glasses for your needs.

Do Radiation Protection Glasses Work? 

Radiation protection glasses, also known as radiation safety glasses, protect your eyes from harmful levels of scatter or secondary radiation during medical procedures, including those employed in interventional radiology or a cardiac cath lab.  

These glasses are made with materials that shield your eyes from radiation, such as leaded glass or lead-lined material which offers 0.75 mm of lead-equivalent protection. The lead in the glasses absorbs the harmful radiation before it reaches your eyes, thereby reducing your risk of developing radiation-induced cataracts, which is a common condition among medical professionals exposed to radiation. 

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, radiation protection glasses are effective in reducing the risk of radiation-induced eye damage. These glasses can limit the amount of scatter radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 90%.

Are Radiation Glasses Necessary? 

Radiation protection glasses are critically important for anyone who is exposed to ionizing radiation emitted from certain types of medical imaging procedures which involve the use of X-rays. Medical professionals such as radiologists, surgeons, nuclear medicine technologists, and radiation therapists are at a higher risk of developing radiation-induced eye damage due to their frequent exposure, and should therefore wear radiation glasses for proper protection.

While medical personnel are typically only exposed to radiation for a short period of time, wearing these protective glasses can reduce the risk of any harm towards the eyes, whether from lower doses of radiation that can permanently damage the lens of the eye and lead to cataracts, blurry vision, and vision loss, or from higher doses that can damage the iris, conjunctiva, and the blood vessels of the retina

Ultimately, wearing radiation protection glasses can protect you from a variety of conditions, including glaucoma, tumor growth, and tear duct damage. 

What are the Different Types of Radiation Glasses?

There are various types of radiation protection glasses available, each with its own set of features and benefits. Moreover, all of these different types of radiation protection glasses are made with leaded glass or lead-lined material which provide the necessary amount of radiation attenuation. Here are the main types of radiation glasses: 

Side shield glasses have additional shielding on the sides of the frames to provide extra protection to your eyes. These glasses are designed for medical professionals who work with high-energy radiation, such as interventional radiologists. Side shield glasses come in several styles, such as 53 Wrap Radiation Protection Glasses, which feature flexible hinges for greater comfort and less resistance than a standard hinge.

Wraparound radiation protection glasses provide complete coverage to your eyes and the surrounding areas, as they have side shields built into them. They are a good option for medical professionals who work with scattered radiation, such as nuclear medicine technologists. Ultralite Wraparound Radiation Protection Glasses are one example of this style, offering curved, flexible temples for a secure fit, as well as lateral protection and more.

Fitover radiation protection glasses fit over your existing prescription glasses. These glasses provide an extra layer of protection and are a good option for individuals who wear glasses regularly. AliMed carries FITOVERS® Splash Wraparound Radiation Glasses, which are oversized to fit over your own prescription glasses. These glasses also feature a durable, nylon frame with large, clear 0.75-mm molded side shields for adequate protection.

How to Choose Radiation Glasses?

When choosing radiation protection glasses, there are several factors to consider based on your individual needs. These factors include:

Level of Protection: Consider the level of protection you need based on the type of radiation you will be exposed to. Leaded eyewear is typically sufficient for most medical procedures, while side shields offer additional lateral protection and greater overall coverage on the side of the face, typically with 0.5 mm lead equivalent protection.  

Wraparound radiation protection glasses incorporate side shields into their design, and may be best for those who need protection from the side angle.

Lens Material: Choose glasses made with high-quality lens material that provide clear vision and reduce glare. Anti-reflective coating can also help improve visibility in low-light environments. A good choice here includes anti-reflective radiation protection glasses.

Individuals who require corrective lenses can also choose prescription radiation glasses, which can be customized to fit your prescription needs.

Style: Radiation protection glasses come in a variety of styles and colors to suit different tastes. In addition to standard styles, there are a variety of designer styles from brands such as Nike, Oakley, and Ray-Ban®.

Weight: It is ideal to choose lightweight radiation protection glasses, as doing so helps to maximize comfort. The lead in this protective eyewear makes it heavier than other types of safety eyewear that don’t feature radiation protection, so it’s best to choose glasses that have the lowest weight based on your needs and preferences.

Size and Fit: Radiation protection glasses are an essential piece of protective gear for medical professionals who work in imaging or surgical settings where radiation is utilized. These glasses effectively shield your eyes from harmful radiation exposure and can reduce your risk of developing radiation-induced eye damage.

When choosing radiation protection glasses, consider those that will fit comfortably and securely on your face, and feature adjustable nose pads or a nose bridge that molds to the nose for a good nose fit. There are a variety of sizes and styles available to best fit different face sizes and shapes. 

By taking all of these factors into account, you can choose the best radiation protection glasses for your needs and protect your eyes from potential harm. 

How Can I Further Protect My Eyes from Radiation? 

In addition to wearing radiation protection glasses that are made to adhere to the principles of ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable)—which means they make every effort to minimize radiation risk—there are other ways to protect your eyes from radiation exposure during certain medical procedures. Here are some tips to consider:

Use barriers or shields: Combining radiation protection glasses with scatter-shielding barriers and shields can be even more effective at lowering the dose rate. Choose from full-body, mobile, overhead, or table shields based on your needs.

Limit exposure time: Minimize your exposure time to radiation by keeping the procedure time as short as possible. Do not linger in areas where radiation is present. 

Wear protective gear: In addition to radiation protection glasses, wear an apron and gloves to further shield yourself from radiation. 

Use equipment properly: Ensure that all equipment is used properly and is functioning correctly to reduce the risk of radiation exposure. This includes proper care and regular checks of your protective garments.

Monitor radiation levels: Use a radiation detector to monitor radiation levels, allowing you to respond appropriately if the radiation levels get too high.  

By knowing about the different types of radiation protection glasses that are available, you can find the best pair for your own needs based on a variety of factors including level of protection, lens material, size and fit, style, and weight. Ultimately, by wearing these protective glasses for medical procedures that involve the use of radiation, you can help to protect your eyes from harmful exposure.

Want more information? Visit AliMed’s Radiation Protection Resource Hub to explore our suite of resources, including how to choose, use, and care for radiation protection aprons, gloves, and glasses. 


AliMed, Inc. is a manufacturer and distributor of medical supply products, and is not a medical authority. The contents contained in this article, including text, graphics, imagery, and other materials, are for informational and educational purposes only. AliMed does not provide or intend to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and the information contained here should not be treated as such. If you have questions about a specific medical condition or specific personal use of a medical device, always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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