Does Welding Damage Your Eyes?

Welding evolves eyes to concentrate on weld pool while making weld. It is a risky and hazardous work as you eyes may exposed to the ultraviolet radiation (UV) or  infrared rays (IR). These rays are very harmful for eyes and can damage eyes gradually. Moreover, these rays are not the only culprit in welding profession that can harm your eyes.

In this guide I will explore all eye problems that can be resulted from welding rays and also will describe solutions and preventions to the problems.

Lets start-

Does Welding Damage Your Eyes
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Causes of Eye Damage from Welding

  • Studies have shown that, foreign bodies entering the eye accounted for 71.7% welding injuries. Here, by a foreign body, we mean wood chips, metal shavings, insects, glass pieces or dust. Therefore, the most common cause of retinal damage from welding is entering a foreign body.
  • Another common cause is eye burning from welding. Statistics have shown that around 22.2% of injuries in eyes of a welder are caused by burning. Besides, the basic process before and after welding activities like grinding, brushing and chipping cause serious eye injury that are caused by dusts and rusts coming out of metal.
  • Moreover, fumes from the welding area can cause photo-keratitis also called ultraviolet Keratitis. It is an inflammation of eyes basically resulted from ultraviolet rays coming out of welding pool. The problem is also named as flash burn in welding. 
  • Blurry vision is another eye problem that welders encounter after welding for a while. The bright lights coming out of welding pool is so bright that, it can temporarily make you blind for a while in most severe case. That’s why one should not continuously weld for an extended time uninterruptedly. Take a few minutes rest after putting few beads on the base.
  • Electromagnetic Radiation can damage the retina permanently, resulting visual impairment. The electromagnetic radiation is harmful to health also. It can impair eyes as well as can increase the risk of heart attack for welders.
  • Surfer’s eye or pterygium is an eye disease that results from exposure to UR rays. This problem irritates the eye cornea, impair vision and induce edema.
  • The visible light of the welding zone can cause retinal damage. As a result, the welder may lose their vision soon if necessary precautions are not taken seriously.
  • Cataracts develop when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurred or foggy vision. Aging is the primary cause, but factors such as prolonged exposure to UV radiation, diabetes, smoking, and certain medications may contribute. In welding exposure to UV light  posses high risk of the disease.

How does welding damage the eyes?

The process by which welding can damage the eyes involves exposure to various hazardous elements generated during the welding process. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how welding can potentially harm the eyes:

  1. Arc Formation:
    • Welding involves the creation of an electric arc between the welding electrode and the workpiece. This welding arc produces extremely bright and intense light, including ultraviolet (UV) radiation. We know about the light sensitivity of eyes and that’s why necessary precautions should be taken to tackle the issue.
  2. Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation Exposure:
    • The welding arc emits high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is invisible to the naked eye. UV radiation can cause damage to the cornea and conjunctiva of the eyes.
  3. Absorption by Ocular Tissues:
    • The eyes are particularly sensitive to UV radiation, and when exposed, the cornea and conjunctiva absorb the energy from the UV rays and eye issue is introduced.
  4. Tissue Damage – Arc Eye (Welder’s Flash):
    • Prolonged or intense exposure to UV radiation can lead to a condition known as arc eye or welder’s flash. This is essentially a burn on the surface of the eye, similar to sunburn, causing pain, redness, tearing, and a gritty feeling.
  5. Infrared (IR) Radiation:
    • In addition to UV radiation, welding also generates infrared (IR) radiation. IR radiation is felt as heat and can penetrate the eye, potentially leading to long-term damage, including the development of cataracts over time.
  6. Visible Light Intensity:
    • The welding process produces intense visible light, which can cause discomfort, glare, and temporary vision impairment. Prolonged exposure to such brightness can contribute to eyestrain and fatigue.
  7. Heat and Flying Particles:
    • Welding generates heat, sparks, molten metal, and flying particles. Without proper eye protection, these materials can enter the eyes, causing burns, irritation, or injury.
  8. Potential Long-Term Effects:
    • Chronic exposure to the hazards produced during welding, especially without adequate protection, may contribute to long-term eye issues such as cataracts, retinal damage, and other vision-related problems.

Fortunately, the infrared and ultraviolet rays from welding areas can’t directly affect the eyes. The eye’s cornea and lens absorb the harmful rays and create swelling and pain in the welder’s eyes. Even though these swelling and pain aren’t permanent, but the pain can agonize you for a few days.

Watering, blinking, and blurred vision can lead to permanent eye injury if not treated on time. Also, note that welding without safety can gradually reduce eye vision.

How to Reduce the Risk of Eye Damage in Welding?

Using appropriate protective eyewear can help reduce eye damage risks. Eye protective equipment includes safety goggles, glasses, clothing, face shields and welding helmets.

1. Safety Glasses

Wearing protective safety gear like goggles can keep your eyes from ultraviolet and impact radiation. However, choosing safety glasses permitted by OSHA safety regulations is important.

OSHA-permitted safety glasses are designed to protect the eyes from the front and sides. Besides, ensure your safety glasses are comfortable for longer periods.

2. Safety Goggles

There are two types of safety goggles. The safety goggles with the direct vent are ideal to prevent harmful radiation. This google has a smaller opening to pass the fog inside the goggles.

On the contrary, Goggles without a vent are used in extreme dust, splashes and radiation areas. These types of goggles have no opening.

3. Face shields

Face shields provide extra protection over the eye goggles or glasses. These are mainly designed to protect the face. However, you can wear it to protect your eyes too. 

These shields are designed with a protective layer of filter. So, the filter can prevent radiation, sparks, dust and fumes from entering into nose, eyes and throat.

Choose your face shield according to the type of welding. Note that the face shield for arc and gas welding differs in design and features.

4. Welding helmet

A welding helmet is a multi-featured protective eyewear. It works to protect the whole face. But it is recommended to wear extra eyeglasses beneath the helmet.

However, one must know the welding type before choosing a welding helmet. For example, the fixed shade helmet has a feature to stay dark all the time. On the other hand, the automatic darkening helmet can adjust the darkness as required. 

5. Helmet Eye Lenses

You need to choose true color welding helmet lens to protect the eye from bright light. The lens converts the bright white and yellow light into blue light, red light even purple based on the lens color you select. 

6. Clothing:

Specialized clothing is important to protect from rays, sparks or splatter, fumes and heat. Otherwise, the extreme spark or spatter can cause burning. So, wear PPE to cover the entire body.

7. Follow the Welding rules

A welder must maintain some mandatory rules to prevent injury and severe damage. So, must know the rules and maintain those before starting your welding tasks.

Treatment of eyes if they get hurt while welding?

You mistakenly looked at the welding arch with bare eyes, and the result is much suffering. Let’s learn some simple ways to treat this type of situation.

Initial Tasks:

  • Wear sunglasses to reduce irritation and glare of the direct sunlight or artificial electric light.
  • Use eye drops to reduce inflammation and take over-the-counter drugs to prevent pain.
  • Drink enough liquid, including water, coconut water, milk or fruit juice
  • Keep closing your eyes and take complete rest
  • Remove contact lenses if you wore that
  • Don’t rub the eyes or eye area because it can cause retinal stains or increase the problems.
  • If you feel any loss of vision symptoms, go to an ophthalmologist

Home Remedies:

Some effective home remedies can give calmness to your eyes.

  • Tea bags

Applying a black or green tea bag to the eyes is a popular way to reduce inflammation. Used tea bags contain tannin that reduces burning irritation quickly. Keep the tea bag in the fridge and cool it down a bit. Besides, you can drink tea as it has minerals.

  • Potatoes

Applying mashed raw potatoes around the eyes will reduce pain and inflammation quickly.

  • Milk

The natural enzymes of milk can reduce your damaged eye pain. At the same time, it will reduce dryness and itching and provide a cooling sensation in your eyes.

  • Rosewater

Rosewater is another effective way to get rid of welding splash. Wipe around the damaged eyes with rose water with a soft cotton ball.

  • Ice packs

You can also use an ice pack on the eyes. It will reduce inflammation, redness, swelling and pain very quickly.

  • Cucumbers

Cucumber is a mineral-rich ingredient. Take a cucumber slice and apply it to the damaged eyes. It will make your eyes cool and comfortable.

  • Wet clothes

Another simple solution is to put a wet cloth over your eyes, making you feel cold.

  • Aloe Vera

You may close your eyes and put aloe vera on them for a while. It would reduce the corneal flash burn to some extend.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How long does it take for welding to hurt your eyes?

The time it takes to hurt your eyes can vary depending on factors such as the intensity of the welding process, the specific welding method used, the duration of exposure, and the level of eye protection worn. Welding without proper eye protection can lead to discomfort and potential eye damage in a relatively short time.
Exposure to the intense light, ultraviolet light(UV), and infrared (IR) radiation produced during welding can cause immediate discomfort. Eye irritation, commonly known as “arc eye” or “welder’s flash,” can occur after just a few seconds of exposure to the welding arc without adequate eye protection.
Longer periods of unprotected exposure increase the risk of more severe damage to the eyes, including the potential for long-term issues such as cataracts. 

2. What happens if welding gets in your eye?

If welding materials get into your eye, it can cause irritation, corneal abrasion, burns, conjunctivitis, and potential infection. Immediate flushing with water and seeking medical attention are crucial to minimize damage and complications. Wearing proper eye protection during welding is essential to prevent such incidents.

3. Is welders eye problem permanent?

Welder’s eye, or arc eye, is usually temporary, causing intense pain, redness, and tearing. With prompt treatment and avoiding further exposure, recovery is typical. However, chronic exposure without protection may lead to long-term issues like cataracts.

4. Why do I see pink after welding?

Seeing pink after welding may indicate exposure to intense light and UV radiation. It suggests possible eye strain or temporary sensitivity. If persistent, consult an eye care professional, as it could be a symptom of arc eye or other eye issues resulting from welding.

5. Can eye injury heal on its own?

Minor eye injuries may heal on their own, but it’s crucial to seek medical attention for proper evaluation and care. Serious injuries or persistent symptoms require intervention of eye doctor to prevent complications and ensure optimal healing.

6. Can I use sunglasses for welding? 

No, regular sunglasses are not sufficient for welding. Welding produces intense light, UV, and infrared radiation. Specialized welding helmets or goggles with appropriate lenses are essential to protect the eyes from these hazards.

Last Words

We hope you know the reasons for eye damage from welding. You will face some common and serious eye problems from the welding zone. In some cases, the hazards may lead you to permanent vision loss. So, Precautions are very important to protect yourself from hazardous conditions. We have already mentioned how to prevent the risks of potential vision damage from welding.


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