Welding Helmets With Cheater Lens (Maintenance + More)

Welding Helmets With Cheater Lens

So what are welding helmets with cheater lens? While most professions require good eyesight, welders depend on great sight. Many welders use safety glasses and specialized glasses under their helmets but adding a layer of glass or safety plastic can distort the view. Some welders choose to build in correction or magnification right into the helmet lens to see clearer.

Does your welding helmet need glasses? For most welders, yes. Commonly called a cheater lens, these specially designed lenses can be inserted into a welding helmet to help magnify the welder’s view or correct the welder’s vision. Using the same principle as reading glasses, cheater lenses have a generally graduated magnification that allows welders to see things closer up without adding another layer of glass or plastic under their helmets.

A helmet’s sole mission is to protect the welder, so having cheater lenses (see tutorial video below) or a type of glasses is just one more way to keep a welder safe. Being a good welder is being able to work in a challenging working environment that is dangerous and uncomfortable and doing precise joint work. Vision is critical for achieving a strong and clean welding seam.

Best Welding Helmets With Cheater Lens Amazon

On Amazon, you can have cheater lenses. Check availability here

Choosing the Right Cheater Lens For You

Helmet selection is one of the most important decisions a welder can make because it is the primary tool for safety. There are many options for selecting a good helmet and nothing is more important than being able to see clearly. That’s where cheater lenses come in. 

There are many options in cheater lenses.  Here are some of the things to consider when selecting the best cheater lens for you and your welding situations.

Auto-darkeningAuto darkening is a feature exactly like a Transition® lens is to glasses. It automatically darkens as incoming light increases. Many helmets contain this feature in their standard lens but there are cheater lenses that also provide this option. By detecting the power, heat, and brightness of the arc when it is struck, this type of lens adjusts the tint level of the lens accordingly
Number of arc sensorsArc sensors are what protect you from getting “flashed” or blinded. The number of arc sensors determines the quality and speed in which the shades react. A number of sensors range from 2 – 4
SizeIn this case, size is truly an advantage. As a general rule, a standard size lens is 2″ x 4″. The greater the lens size, the more you’ll have the capacity to see. Even though it may seem small, the larger the lens the more significant advantage and improvement when welding.
RangeYou are not always welding the same materials in the same environment each time. When selecting a cheater lens, you must consider the right shade range for the kind of welding you’ll be doing the most. This means determining specific needs in light conditions and the health of your eyes
ClarityIt may sound obvious but clarity of the lens is extremely important. EN379 standards evaluate clarity on four different aspects: diffusion of light; accuracy of vision; angular dependence; and consistency of shade

“We often take good vision for granted. To be a good welder, good vision is paramount to being able to make sound welds with all of the characteristics quality and inspection personnel require, as well as proper manufacturing efficiency dictates. How to improve welding by enhancing welders’ ability to see the work is detailed in the following sections.”

Jeff Strahan, an American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspector and Certified Welding Educator and Instructor at Weber State University, Ogden, Utah.

Do Welding Helmets Block IR Light?

Yes, welding helmets are designed to block harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays emitted during welding. The auto-darkening welding helmets distort these harmful light waves with polarized lenses, providing hands-free protection for the welder’s eyes.

The lenses disorient the light waves and make them less harmful to the welder’s eyes. You can find a wide range of welding helmets available on the market that block these harmful light waves, including those made by Miller, 3M Speedglas, and Jackson.

The Passive ALF Laser Safety Welding Helmet is also an excellent option for blocking laser light waves during handheld laser welding applications.

Can You Wear Eye Glasses Under a Welding Helmet?

Yes, it is possible to wear eyeglasses under a welding helmet. However, it might be uncomfortable or inconvenient based on the size and shape of the welding helmet and glasses.

In some cases, the glasses can interfere with the fit of the helmet, causing discomfort or even making it impossible to wear the helmet. In such cases, prescription welding helmets or safety glasses might be more suitable.

It is also essential to ensure that the welding helmet or glasses provide adequate protection against UV and IR radiation.

Why Is Good Vision Critical To Welding?

It is a fact of life. As we get older, our vision slowly deteriorates, normally after the age of 40. Many welders use glasses, and they can help, but glasses are difficult to wear under a welding helmet.

More than any of the other senses, sharp vision is critical to manufacturing quality welds and paramount for a variety of reasons.

SafetyRegardless of metal, plastic, or wood, being able to see clearly and avoid mishaps that can range from minor injuries to blindness is critical. Vision allows you to only weld the materials you want to weld. In many situations, welds are small and difficult to see possible imperfections while completing a weld
QualityWhile it may not seem like it, welds are a clear example of quality craft. Are the seams uniform? Are they aesthetically pleasing? Is the weld-free from rough edges? Even though some of these seams may not be easily seen, they are a reflection of the final product and the work by the welder
Structural IntegrityInherently joining two pieces that were not originally manufactured together automatically creates a weakness. Good clean welds minimize the risk that the parent plate formed by the parent materials fails. Think how important this is when there are many welds that rely upon each other for strength and stability, such as metal girders and the framework of a skyscraper

Before you continue reading, here is an article we wrote about Arc Eye and the Symptoms.

Standard Lens Versus Auto Darkening Lenses

Today, due to technology, most of the lenses contain auto-darkening features.  But you may also want to consider standard lenses. Sometimes referred to as passive lenses because they are always dark, standard lenses are cheap and have no real learning curve.

Another unique feature is that these lenses have a combination of UV and IR coatings applied in the manufacturing process.  A disadvantage of the standard lens is that in normal light you will not be able to see because of their maximum shade level of 10.

Conversely, auto-darkening lenses give the most flexibility possible.  Like the name denotes, the speed and level of shading automatically happens to the light detected.

How To Maintain Your Cheater Lenses & Helmet

While extremely and straight forward, cheater lenses do require some basic maintenance.

Replace regularlyAs a rule of thumb, cheater lenses need to be changed every month. This varies from welder to welder due to personal preferences and different uses.
DamageCheater lenses are made in a variety of glass and plastics which are extremely tough. They do become damaged because of the rough conditions and materials used so they need to be inspected weekly and replaced when needed
CleaningWhether it be the regular standard lens that comes with the helmet or a cheater lens, proper cleaning the lens is critical for better vision and long life. The most recommended way is to take a grinding wheel and add some buffer compound and then lightly putting on the wheel moving side to side. The proper method is to begin very lightly and continue to move the lens to prevent damaging or even breaking it

Why Cheater Lenses Are A Better Choice

As explained earlier, cheater lenses are one of the best options available for welders that need help with their vision. So, what is a welder to do?

The answer, in most cases, is an internal lens that either magnifies the entire surface area of the helmet lens or uses a lens that corrects the user’s vision -exactly like a pair of standard glasses. There are many advantages of “cheater” lenses which are:

●    Focus:  Since this type of lens covers the entire viewing area of the helmet glass lens, the welding area is always in focus.

●    Comfort: Since the internal lens is on the helmet and not on the welder’s face, there is no slippage, fogging, or reflection.

●     Ease of Use: Cheater lenses come in all types of materials, and easy to snap into most helmets helps via tabs that come with every helmet behind the standard vision opening.

●     Cost: There are many types of cheater lenses made of all sorts of materials, and most are under $15.

Your welding helmet is a welder’s primary source of protection and insurance policy. Helmets today have all types of aids when it comes to being able to see safely and accurately, and you don’t even need your glasses because the helmet already has them.

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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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