Does Welding Hurt Your Eyes? How Can You Protect Your Eyes

What Are Some Eye Problems Caused by Welding

Well, does welding hurt your eyes? This is the question we received from one of our readers. Welding comes with quite a few occupational hazards, and eye problems are one of the leading concerns.

Knowing what can happen to your eyes as a result of welding is scary, but it is also essential to understand the risks involved. There are multiple ways that welding can have a negative impact on your eyes.

Does Welding Hurt Your Eyes? Yes, it does. Not only are you using an intense heat combined with Radiation and ultraviolet Radiation as part of the process, but there is also the debris and chemicals to consider as well. Welding can not only lead to something known as “Welder’s Flash,” but it leads to more severe cases such as blindness and cataracts as well.

The good news is that although welding comes with serious risks, there are ways that you can protect your eyes to minimize your chances of suffering from any sort of vision-related problem.

Let’s talk about the risk of welding, as well as what you can do to prevent them.

Does Welding Hurt Your Eyes?

The short answer is that yes, welding does hurt your eyes. It is not as common as you may think, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to you. Overexposure or not using protective equipment can lead to corneal burns, cataracts, and even blindness in some cases.

You have to worry about the debris, chemicals, and bright light as well. Also, being in the same room as someone can lead to indirect exposure.

eyes from welder

One of the most significant risks in welding is the adverse effects of different light emissions. Infrared Radiation poses more of a threat to your body, but prolonged exposure can cause damage.

Ultraviolet Radiation is what causes the most damage to your eyes, and it is the main reason for flash burns. UV rays can also lead to cataracts and blindness with overexposure.

You can also cause damage to your eye just by general work that is involved with welding. Saws and other tools can cause particles and debris to fly off of what you are working on and can end up in your eyes.

This is a prevalent eye injury that welders deal with and can be prevented by using proper safety equipment.

The best way to prevent damage to your eyes while welding is by taking certain safety precautions such as wearing goggles, masks, and face shields. ANSI Z87.1 compliant safety goggles and equipment not only protect your eyes from the damaging light of welding, but also from any debris or chemicals that come from welding.

Learn More About Welding Safety – Here, you can find an article from our website about PPE – Personal Protective Equipment

Can Welding Make You Blind? 

Welding is a dangerous job. The equipment that the welders use and the process of welding itself can cause physical injuries. One of the most common injuries that can happen to welders is an eye injury.

While some eye injuries can quickly recover, other injuries can last for a while. So, this leaves us with the questions: Can welding result in permanent eye injury? Can welding make you blind?

The welding process produces harmful ultraviolet, infrared, and spectrum radiation. Ultraviolet radiation can damage your eyes pretty quickly, because it gets absorbed by the eye lens and the cornea, resulting in arc eyes or flash burns.

Can Welding Make You Blind

This injury isn’t permanent, and you can recover from it fastly. However, it’s really painful and might cause an eyesight loss in some rare cases. Flash burns can happen due to several reasons while welding, but they mainly happen because of using the welding torch.

The extremely bright light resulting from the welding process warms the eye lenses, making them temporarily opaque, which leads to blurred sight afterward. Arc eyes’ symptoms appear after a couple of hours of the injury.

According to studies of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, eye injuries are estimated to be a quarter of all the welding injuries that happen while welding.

However, the studies suggest that welders who work in major industrial sectors, such as heavy machinery, computer equipment, or fabricated metal products, are more prone to eye injuries.

Also, it indicates that in more than 90% of these cases, the welder wasn’t wearing protective equipment.

Although welding can cause eye injuries that lead to blindness, it’s less likely to happen if you take extra care while welding. Never underestimate the importance of protective and safety equipment.

What Are Some Eye Problems Caused by Welding?

Flash Burns

A flash burn is nothing more than a sunburn that happens to be on the cornea of your eye. In some cases, a flash burn will form in both eyes at once.

If a flash burn is treated in enough time, then they will heal in just a few days, but if they are not treated, it can cause pain, infections, and more pressing concerns.

Some of the most common symptoms of flash burns are- pain in the eye, blurred vision, bloodshot eyes, and light sensitivity.

It is most often treated with dilating drops that can help reduce the amount of pain you are feeling, but it does cause your pupils to become larger.

Antibiotics and covering the eye are also great ways to reduce the chances of the eye being exposed to anything that may cause it to become more sensitive or infected.

Learn More About Arc Eye – Here, you can find an article from our website about What is Arc Eye and What are the Symptoms?

Blue Light Hazard

If you expose yourself to Electromagnetic Radiation at an early age, you can cause lasting damage to your retina. This frequency is typically between 400 to 500nm.

This can lead to temporary or permanent blindness. Overexposure can also cause you to develop Age-Related Macular Degeneration, which is one of the most common long-term negative impacts of welding.

Cataracts

While cataracts are not as common of an injury as flash burns are in welding, it still is something that can happen to your eyes. This is usually a result of overexposure to ultraviolet rays that come from a long career in the welding industry.

Cataract symptoms typically involve the clouding of an eye and problems with vision. If left untreated, this can lead to blindness.

The good news is that cataracts are something that can be treated, and the treatment has a high success rate. Surgery is a common way that cataracts are fixed, but it will require a certain amount of recovery time that can take you out of work and daily life.

Blindness

Blindness is the most severe eye problem that can come as a result of welding. Blindness is usually a result of a minor problem being left untreated, such as flash burns or cataracts.

There is also the risk of debris or chemicals coming into contact with your eye that can result in partial or full blindness.

Is it a Permanent Problem?

Our eyes are one of the quickest organs to heal in our bodies. So while you may damage your eyes in a welding career, it does not mean that you have to deal with the problems forever.

Injuries such as flash burns can heal in a few days if they are treated quickly and adequately. Since they are necessarily sunburns to the eye, they will hurt for a few days but usually, go back to normal once treated.

For debris related injuries and significant chemical injuries, you are going to have a more difficult time reversing these injuries. They can have a negative impact on more significant areas of your eye, and a small metal particle can even lead to such severe problems as blindness.

Cataracts can happen as a result of welding, but it can also be something that comes with age. Cataracts are one of the most successful surgeries that doctors perform, and it is becoming more and more common.

If left untreated, any of these injuries can lead to blindness, which is a more permanent issue.

How Can You Protect Your Eyes While Welding?

Knowing the risks involved with welding is one way that many companies are encouraging their employees to wear proper safety gear while they are welding.

If an employee is aware of what could happen to their eyes, they are more likely to make it a habit to wear their safety gear. Wearing a helmet is a great safety practice for any job, but in welding, a helmet is not nearly enough protection.

Wearing safety goggles is one of the best ways to protect your eyes while you are welding. The best protective eyewear options are those that comply with ANSI Z87.1 and utilize side panels to not only protect from the light but the heat and debris that come as a part of the job as well. Some helmets come with shields that are approved with this standard as well.

Passive lenses are another great option since they have a dark tint to the glass. They block both UV and IR rays, but due to the tint, your visibility can be restricted.

These are typically saved for those who are experienced in welding. There are also auto-darkening lenses that respond to the lights from welding so that you have more visibility when you need it.

Learn More About Welding Safety – Here, you can find an article from our website about PPE – Personal Protective Equipment

Another excellent safety precaution is to make sure you are using a face shield while you are welding. Most safety glasses can be worn under face shields, and they are great for protecting you from any sort of debris that may fly off of your workspace.

You can also get face shields that can protect you from damaging light that comes from welding.

Sources:

workshopwelding.com

ohsonline.com

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David Harper

David is the Co-Founder and Senior Editor at weldingtroop.com. David's an experienced fitter and tuner/welder who's passionate about helping others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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