Heart Patients Should Protect Their Eyes

Health Writer
Medically Reviewed

Eye protection is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you're told you need a procedure to open a blockage in one of your heart's arteries. But a recent study says it should be high on patients' lists.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)is a heart procedure used to find and eliminate blockages in coronary arteries. During the procedure, medical staff and the patient are exposed to X-ray radiation used to view the patient's circulatory system.

The level of radiation is high enough to require medical staff to wear lead-based eyeglasses to avoid eye damage. But similar protection is not typically provided for patients.

The researchers evaluated data from nearly 14,000 patients who underwent at least one PCI from 2001 through 2012. They compared it with data from more than 27,000 patients who did not.

The study determined that, on average, patients who had PCIs had 25 percent more cataract surgeries than those who did not have a PCI. They also found that the risk increased with the number of PCI procedures performed.

This study does not prove that the radiation used during PCIs causes cataracts. But the evidence is strong enough to suggest the importance of discussing eye safety with your doctor before undergoing a second or third interventional procedure.

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, Volume 176, page 710, May 2016