Occupational radiation exposure and glaucoma and macular degeneration in the US radiologic technologists

Mark P. Little, Cari M. Kitahara, Elizabeth K. Cahoon, Marie Odile Bernier, Raquel Velazquez-Kronen, Michele M. Doody, David Borrego, Jeremy S. Miller, Bruce H Alexander, Steven L. Simon, Dale L. Preston, Craig Meyer, Martha S. Linet, Nobuyuki Hamada

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9 Scopus citations


There are well-documented associations of glaucoma with high-dose radiation exposure, but only a single study suggesting risk of glaucoma, and less conclusively macular degeneration, associated with moderate-dose exposure. We assessed risk of glaucoma and macular degeneration associated with occupational eye-lens radiation dose, using participants from the US Radiologic Technologists Study, followed from the date of surveys in 1994-1998, 2003-2005 to the earliest of diagnosis of glaucoma or macular degeneration, cancer other than non-melanoma skin cancer, or date of last survey (2012-2014). We excluded those with baseline disease or previous radiotherapy history. Cox proportional hazards models with age as timescale were used. There were 1631 cases of newly self-reported doctor-diagnosed cases of glaucoma and 1331 of macular degeneration among 69,568 and 69,969 eligible subjects, respectively. Estimated mean cumulative eye-lens absorbed dose from occupational radiation exposures was 0.058 Gy. The excess relative risk/Gy for glaucoma was -0.57 (95% CI -1.46, 0.60, p = 0.304) and for macular degeneration was 0.32 (95% CI -0.32, 1.27, p = 0.381), suggesting that there is no appreciable risk for either endpoint associated with low-dose and low dose-rate radiation exposure. Since this is the first examination of glaucoma and macular degeneration associated with low-dose radiation exposure, this result needs to be replicated in other low-dose studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10481
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr Christina Prescott of the Wilmer Eye Institute (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine), and the two referees for detailed and helpful comments. The authors thank the radiologic technologists who participated in the study, Dr. Jerry Reid of the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists for his continued support, and Diane Kampa and Allison Iwan of the University of Minnesota for study management and data collection. This work was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


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