Interventional cardiologists and risk of radiation-induced cataract: results of a French multicenter observational study

Int J Cardiol. 2013 Sep 1;167(5):1843-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.04.124. Epub 2012 May 18.


Background: Interventional cardiologists (ICs) are exposed to X-rays and may be at risk to develop cataract earlier than common senile cataract. Excess risk of posterior subcapsular cataract, known as radiation-induced, was previously observed in samples of ICs from Malaysia, and Latin America. The O'CLOC study (Occupational Cataracts and Lens Opacities in interventional Cardiology) was performed to quantify the risk at the scale of France.

Methods: This cross-sectional multicenter study included an exposed group of ICs from different French centers and an unexposed control group of non-medical workers. Individual information was collected about cataract risk factors and past and present workload in catheterization laboratory. All participants had a clinical eye examination to classify the lens opacities (nuclear, cortical, or posterior subcapsular) with the international standard classification LOCS III.

Results: The study included 106 ICs (mean age = 51 ± 7 years) and 99 unexposed control subjects (mean age = 50 ± 7 years). The groups did not differ significantly in the prevalence of either nuclear or cortical lens opacities (61% vs. 69% and 23% vs. 29%, respectively). However, posterior subcapsular lens opacities, were significantly more frequent among ICs (17% vs. 5%, p=0.006), for an OR=3.9 [1.3-11.4]. The risk increased with duration of activity but no clear relationship with workload was observed. However, the risk appeared lower for regular users of protective lead glasses (OR=2.2 [0.4-12.8]).

Conclusions: ICs, in France as elsewhere, are at high risk of posterior subcapsular cataracts. Use of protective equipment against X-rays, in particular lead glasses, is strongly recommended to limit this risk.

Keywords: Cardiologist; Cataract; Eye exposure; Invasive procedure; Ionizing radiation; X-rays.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiology* / standards
  • Cataract / diagnosis
  • Cataract / epidemiology*
  • Cataract / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Physicians* / standards
  • Radiation Injuries / diagnosis
  • Radiation Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology
  • Risk Factors