The effect of ionizing radiation on intraocular lenses.

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BACKGROUND: The native crystalline lens is the principal shield against ultraviolet radiation (UV), damage to the human retina. Every year in the United States, more than one million patients undergo removal of the natural lens in the course of cataract surgery (phakectomy), at which time an intraocular lens (IOL) is placed in the lens capsule. The IOL thenceforth serves as the principal barrier to ultraviolet radiation over the life of the implant, potentially for decades. The synthetic organic molecules of which IOLs are composed offer little UV protection unless ultraviolet-absorbing chromophores are incorporated into the lens material during manufacture. However, chromophores are alkenes potentially subject to radiolytic degradation. It is unknown whether ionizing radiation at clinical doses (e.g., to the brain or in the head-and-neck region) affects the UV-absorbing capacity of chromophore-bearing IOLs and consequently exposes the retina to potentially chronic UV damage. In addition, the polymers of which IOLs are composed are themselves subject to radiation damage, which theoretically might result in optical distortion in the visible light range.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether megavoltage photon ionizing radiation alters the absorption spectra of ultraviolet-shielding polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and organopolysiloxane (silicone) intraocular lenses (IOLs) in the UV (280 nm < or = lambda < 400 nm), visible (400 nm < or = lambda < or = 700 nm), and low-end near-infrared (700 nm < lambda < or = 830 nm) ranges.

DESIGN: Prospective, nonrandomized trial of dose-paired IOL cohorts.

METHODS: Fourteen IOLs, seven of PMMA (Chiron 6842B) and seven of silicone (IOLAB L141U), were paired and examined for absorption spectra in 1-nm intervals over the range lambda = 280-830 nm on a Cary 400 deuterium and quartz halogen source-lamp UV/visible spectrophotometer before and after undergoing megavoltage ionizing irradiation to doses of 2, 5, 10, 20, 40, 60, and 100 Gray, respectively. Because of artifactual aberrations inherent in analyzing convex lenses on a conventional flat-plate spectrophotometer, post-irradiation absorption spectra were subsequently reanalyzed on a Cary 300 spectrophotometer outfitted with a Labsphere Diffused Reflectance Accessory (DRA-CA-30-I) incorporating a Spectralon-coated integrating sphere.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary: Changes in UV absorbance after irradiation. Secondary: Changes in visible and low-end near-infrared absorbance after irradiation.

RESULTS: Photon ionizing radiation in the 2-Gy to 100-Gy range produced no detectable alterations in the UV (280 nm < or = lambda < 400 nm), visible (400 nm < or = lambda < or = 700 nm), or low-end near-infrared (700 nm < lambda < or = 830 nm) absorption spectra of any of the lenses irradiated. However, silicone IOLs as a group revealed peak post-irradiation UV absorption at a shorter wavelength than did PMMA IOLs, with marginally greater UV transmission at the uppermost extreme of the UV spectrum (lambda = 384.5-400 nm).

CONCLUSIONS: At clinically relevant doses used in radiation therapy, megavoltage photon ionizing radiation produces no significant alterations in the absorption spectra of PMMA and silicone IOLs over the range lambda = 280- 830 nm. These findings indicate that, even at supraclinical doses, the UV-absorbing capacity of chromophore-bearing PMMA and silicone IOLs remains unimpaired. It is not clear whether the lower UV peak of silicone lenses represents a radiation effect or a peculiarity of the chromophore used in the lenses tested.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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