Post: Radiation Safety Glasses: How Far We’ve Come

Radiation Safety Glasses: How Far We’ve Come

When you work in a field that requires radiation safety glasses, you may not even be aware of how long they’ve existed. In reality, they have been necessary tools for a long time.Despite its outstanding benefits, the dangers of exposure have always been evident. This realization of need has brought with its safety procedures, protocols, and equipment, all designed to keep individuals working with this technology safe. Radiation safety glasses are only one example of this development.The History of Radiation and Protective GogglesThe discovery of x-rays dates back more than 120 years. Of course, with that discovery came a long period of experimentation. As a result of that experimentation, a wide range of scientists was unwittingly exposing themselves and their assistants to radiation.Radiation, as we now know, a potentially significant health hazard attached. The potential impact on the eyes was discovered quickly:

In March 1896, Edison reported eye irrtation associated with the use of x rays, and cautioned against their continuing use. He abandoned his own studies devoted toward an x-ray energized fluorescent light

Another one of the many ailments occurring in the early periods of experimentation was x-rayed dermatitis, which would lead to skin cancer and could even cause death. After coming to the conclusion that overexposure could result in tissue damage, 1896 also saw the first use of the technology was therapeutic, aiming to destroy tissue.Of course, the discovery of x-rays was closely connected to the discovery of radioactivity. When the Curries succeeded in purifying radium and created, a new element was born right alongside a new danger. Many medicines and treatments came out of this discovery.

Radioactive materials in general, and specifically radium, were also thought to be beneficial to health in quantities too small to produce therapeutic results against cancer. Thus, began a great public infatuation with radium that was to last for decades. This was marked by radium-bearing patent medicines, devices to generate radium or radon waters for daily consumption, and the emanatoria at which radon gas could be breathed for its tonic properties.

Luckily by 1900, scientists were working to improve the techniques and recognize the hazards that radiation offered, especially to soft tissue. Limiting exposure became a major focus, but of course, exposure could not be completely eliminated in working with x-rays and other types of radiation.As a result, scientists began to experiment with various protection mechanisms. Boston dentist William Rollins was a pioneer in this area, looking to develop better mechanisms to protect himself while engaging in his hobby of radiation research.The successes of Rollins inspired many of today’s protections against radiation, including a lead-backed radiation screen – and, crucially, goggles designed to protect against cataracts. These goggles, consisting of lead glass, were one centimeter (almost 0.4 inches) thick.Radiation Safety Glasses in Today’s EnvironmentWe’ve come a long way from the inventions of Rollins more than 100 years ago. Today, radiation safety glasses no longer include lead, a problematic material in its own rights. Still, this hobbyist’s desire to create a safer environment for anyone working with radiation has created a ripple effect that pervades until 2017 and beyond.Today, any professional working with radiation of any sort is strongly encouraged to wear protection against potential health risks. Regenerative tissue is the most sensitive to radiation; while our brains are relatively immune to exposure, our eyes are particularly at risk. Research continues to show exactly what Rollins feared in 1902 – that the eyes are among the areas of our body in most dire need of protection against radiation.Neglect to wear radiation goggles, and you risk potentially significant damage. One study of medical professionals, for instance, found that 50 percent of interventional cardiologists and 41 percent of nurses and technicians are affected by eye diseases, compared to 10 percent of the general population.What to Look For in Radiation Safety GogglesTheir rich history, along with the continued need for radiation safety, has made these types of glasses particularly popular in the medical profession. Of course, other industries can benefit from it just as much. But how can you make sure that you buy radiation safety glasses that actually do their job in protecting your eyes from potentially harmful effects? Here are some tips to get started:

  • Adjust Based on Your Profession. In some jobs, you will be exposed closely and directly to radiation. In others, the exposure may be more indirect. Where your profession falls on the spectrum will determine the level of protection you need. For instance, wraparound frames and goggles are perfect for maximum protection, while regular Nike and metal frames may be more convenient for indirect exposure.
  • Look for Lead Equivalency. Lead continues to be a vital method of protection against radiation exposure. However, it makes sense to look for lead equivalency in order to protect against the potentially harmful effects of the lead itself. All of our radiation safety glasses come with a 0.75mm lead equivalency, which meets all common safety standards – and is a long way off from Rollins’ goggles that were ten times as thick.
  • Do You Need a Prescription? If you already wear glasses, you are not out of options. You just have to find the right glasses. For instance, our fitover frames are designed to be worn with your existing glasses. For better protection and more frequent usage, consider buying safety glasses that have the prescription itself included in the lens.

Using these tips, you can find a pair of goggles that fits ideally for your need. You will protect your eyes from both immediate and long-term hazards associated with exposure, improving your eye health as a result. To find your perfect pair of radiation safety glasses for your needs, please contact us.

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