Evaluation of eye shields made of tungsten and aluminum in high-energy electron beams

Randi D. Weaver, Bruce J Gerbi, Kathryn E Dusenbery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose: To protect the lens and cornea of the eye when treating the eyelid with electrons, we designed a tungsten and aluminum eye shield that protected both the lens and cornea, and also limited the amount of backscatter to the overlying eyelid when using electron beam therapy. Methods and Materials: Custom curved tungsten eye shields, 2 mm and 3 mm thick, were placed on Kodak XV film on 8 cm polystyrene and irradiated to evaluate the transmission through the shields. To simulate the thickness of the eyelid and to hold the micro-TLDs, an aquaplast mold was made to match the curvature of the eye shields. Backscatter was measured by placing the micro-TLDs on the beam entrance side to check the dose to the underside of the eyelid. Measurements were done with no aluminum, 0.5, and 1.0 mm of aluminum on top of the tungsten eye shields. The measurements were repeated with 2- and 3-mm flat pieces of lead to determine both the transmission and the backscatter dose for this material. Results: Tungsten proved to be superior to lead for shielding the underlying structures and for reducing backscatter. At 6 MeV, a 3-mm flat slab of tungsten plus 0.5 mm of aluminum, resulted in .042 Gy under the shield when 1.00 Gy is delivered to d(max). At 6 MeV for a 3-mm lead plus 0.5-mm aluminum, .046 Gy was measured beneath the shield, a 9.5% decrease with the tungsten. Backscatter was also decreased from 1.17 to 1.13 Gy, a 4% decrease, when using tungsten plus 0.5 mm of aluminum vs. the same thickness of lead. Measurements using 9 MeV were performed in the same manner. With 3 mm tungsten and 0.5 mm of aluminum, at 3 mm depth the dose was .048 Gy compared to .079 Gy with lead and aluminum (39% decrease). Additionally, the backscatter dose was 3% less using tungsten. Simulating the lens dose 3 mm beyond the shield for the 2-mm and 3-mm custom curved tungsten eye shields plus 0.5 mm of aluminum was .030 and .024 Gy, respectively, using 6 MeV (20% decrease). Using 9-MeV electrons, the dose 3 mm beyond the shield was .048 Gy for the 2-mm shield and .029 Gy for the 3-mm shield (40% decrease). Backscatter was not further decreased using thicker tungsten. With a 6-MeV beam, using the 2-mm or 3-mm custom tungsten eye shields plus 0.5 mm of aluminum, the backscattered doses were 1.03 and 1.02 Gy, respectively. The backscatter dose with 9 MeV was 1.06 Gy using the 2-mm custom shield plus 0.5 mm aluminum and 1.05 Gy with a 3-mm custom shield plus 0.5 mm aluminum. There was very little difference in backscatter dosage under the eyelid using 0.5 vs. 1.0 mm of aluminum. Therefore, for patient comfort, we recommend using 0.5 mm of aluminum. Conclusions: Tungsten is superior to lead as a material for eye shields due to its higher density and lower atomic number (Z). Using 6- and 9-MeV electrons, tungsten provides the necessary protection for the lens and cornea of the eye and decreases the amount of backscatter to the eyelid above the shield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-237
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 1998


  • Backscattered electrons
  • Electron beams
  • Eye Shielding
  • Lead
  • Transmission
  • Tungsten


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