Welding is dangerous for several reasons. One of the most notable risks of welding is the effect that the bright lights emitted while welding can have. The light emitted while welding contains ultraviolet and infrared rays. As a result, looking at this light without proper gear could be dangerous. But can you go blind from welding?
Welding can cause cataracts, which if left unchecked, can lead to blindness. These cataracts gradually cause the clouding of the lenses of the eyes. However, cataracts are not the only cause of blindness. Age-related macular degeneration can also cause blindness, just like cataracts, which is related to UV radiation that can result from welding.
But blindness is not the only harmful effect that UV and IR can have from welding. In this article, I will go over the other harmful effects that welding can have on your eyes. And mention some of the necessary safety measures that you can take while welding. Thus, preventing many of these outcomes. So, please read the article till the end.
How Welding Can Harm Your Eyes
Welding is harmful to the eyes due to ultraviolet and infrared rays. However, the debris from your work while brushing, chipping, or grinding when welding can also harm your eyes. Let us look at how you can harm your eyes while welding.
Pterygium is a common outcome of UV-related damage to the eyes. It is also commonly referred to as “Surfer’s eye.” It usually originates near the corner of the eyes, closer to the nose. Pterygium is an abnormal growth on the surface of the eye.
This mostly causes irritation and swelling in the eyes and leads to a corneal problem that affects your vision. But not to worry, pterygium is completely curable with the help of surgery, but it can still regrow.
Arc-eye is one of the more common damage types that welders face. The medical term for it is photokeratitis. It is the term for burning your eyes while welding. It is similar to sunburn, but in this case, it is for your cornea. It is caused by the ultraviolet radiation given off by a welding arc.
Though this damage is not permanent, it can be extremely painful. The symptoms of arc-eye may not make themselves known immediately, but they will develop over a few days.
Though this is temporary damage to your cornea, it can accumulate over time and cause the cornea and lens of your eyes to turn yellow. Thus, it makes it difficult for you to discern the contrast in your vision over time.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, cataracts are one of the greater risks of welding. Cataracts are one of the most common causes of blindness for those over the age of 40. It is the clouding of the lenses of one’s eyes over a period of time. And if not handled properly, it can lead to reversible blindness.
AMD, also known as age-related macular degeneration, is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over the age of 60. According to research, exposure to UV rays has been greatly associated with developing this at an earlier age.
Researchers claim that being exposed to UV rays early in life is a major factor when it comes to people developing this disease. The UV radiation emitted from welding induces photooxidative stress on your retina, which, in turn, leads to AMD.
Unlike cataracts, blindness caused by age-related macular degeneration is irreversible. But if diagnosed early, the progress of this disease can be slowed through treatment.
Other Possible Damages From Welding
Besides ultraviolet and infrared rays, welding can still cause damage to your eyes if you are not safe. Any work with welding that ejects particles into the air can be dangerous as foreign materials contaminating your eyes can lead to infections. Not to mention other work-related injuries that could lead to you losing an eye if you are not safe.
What To Do If You Looked Directly At Arc Welding On Accident
Considering the above information, you might be scared at first, but do not worry. Firstly, you need to check to see if you are showing any of the symptoms of arc-eye. As mentioned above, the symptoms may take some time to show. Below are the symptoms of arc-eye.
- Excessive water comes from the eyes.
- Becoming extremely sensitive to light and not being able to look directly at a light source.
- Extreme pain or mild pressure in the eyes.
- Feel as if there is sand stuck in your eyes.
- Your eyes and the surrounding membranes become red.
- There is tearing of the eyes and the membranes around it.
The severity of arc-eye, also known as flash burn, can vary depending on the distance from the arc, how long you have been looking at the arc, the angle at which the UV radiation hits your eye, etc. And if the exposure is for a long time, you could even be at risk of cataracts.
If you are showing any of the symptoms, seek help from a medical professional. This is very important as the discomfort may be caused by more than just UV radiation. Foreign particles may be contaminating your eye and causing discomfort. As a result, you may need antibiotics to prevent infection.
And if it is arc-eye, your doctor will help you accordingly by providing you with treatment through eye drops and padded dressing. The padded dressing should give your eyes time to rest and recover.
Your cornea will most likely heal within one or two days. However, if left untreated, you are exposing yourself to further risks, like infections, and it can even result in losing your vision to some extent.
How To Keep Your Eyes Safe While Welding?
Above I mentioned the many risks that come with welding and how dangerous it can be. But if you take the proper precautions, you can weld without worry.
Getting a pair of dark lenses can protect your eyes from the harmful ultraviolet rays coming from welding. I recommend grabbing a pair of shade 13 lenses, but if you are using an auto-darkening helmet turn the shade setting up to the max.
Light bounces more easily off light-colored clothing. This, in turn, could result in the light from the welding bouncing off your clothes straight into your helmet. So, I recommend darker or black outfits as they can absorb light.
Often, you can get arc-eye or flash burns not from your work, but from those working around you. Especially if they are working in proximity, as light can enter the protective helmet from unexpected directions. That is where the hood flap comes to the rescue.
These hood flaps can cover the top and bottom of your welding helmet, preventing light from coming in from these exposed places. You can even use an old shirt to cover exposed areas of your helmet.
Helmet and Safety Glasses
If you are planning to do any welding-related task, you must wear your helmet and safety glasses. Both your helmet and welding glasses need to be certified under the ANSI Z87.1 code before you can use them.
Make sure that your helmet does not have any cracks in it. Even just a small hairline crack will allow light to shine through and damage your eyes.
In this article, I talked about the risks that come with welding and answered the question: can you go blind from welding? I also went over the different diseases that can result from welding and how some of them can lead to blindness. I hope you found this article to be informative. Thank you for reading and good luck.