Can You Go Blind from Welding?

• Post By: Brandon M. Fox  • Updated: 02/08/22
• Welding

Do you know welding is considered a dangerous profession? Well, here you have to melt metal pieces with an electric arc, blowpipe, or other means and then join them by pressing or hammering. Seems quite straightforward, right?

But here is the catch; the melting process generates a lot of hazardous IR and UV rays. Now then, can you go blind from welding? and what to do if you burn your eyes welding?

Temporary welding blindness (arc eye or welder’s flash) can often occur for the lack of proper safety precautions. Proper protection not only saves you from these harsh rays but also all the residues and debris the welding operation leaves behind.

So, with a nice welding helmet with adequate eye protection, you won’t have to worry about loss of vision at all. Want to know more? Let’s dive into the details.

Statistics

According to the data collection of the Statistica Research Department, in 2020, there were approximately 48,940 welding workers in the States. You would be surprised to know that there are about 49,000 welders in Texas alone that work 8 hours a day.

Catherine Saget, head of the Research Department of ILO, said that many of these workers don’t follow proper safety measures for welding.

So, does welding damage your eyes? Yes, for the lack of protection, injuries like blurred vision, dry eyes, flash burns, intense pain, partial blindness, continuous water drops are very common among welders.

Every year about 2000 workers claim insurance money (Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety). 25% of these injuries always end up being related to the eye. In 2014 there were over 6000 injuries in the welding industry.

Of them, 2000 have suffered fatal damage in the cornea from UV light. If not treated immediately, people can also become permanently blind.

The standard procedure is that you can’t ever let your naked eyes have any exposure to bright light. We are here to tell you how you can keep yourself safe.

Welding and the eye: what does it do to your eyes?

The real question here is, does welding hurt your eyes? What happens to your eyes if it gets exposed to intense light? Here are a few of them –

Dry eyes

Another thing you have to worry about while welding is dry eyes. This usually happens when the heat combined with fumes from the weld enters your eyes.

Over time, your body will become accustomed to it, and you will not sense it as much. To keep your eyes moist, you can use the doctor’s prescribed eye drops.

Watery eye

The watery eye is the real deal. If any debris goes into your eyes, they will turn red and water drops will come from your lenses to fight that.

But if the dirt or particle remains in your eyes for too long, it might cause infection. And the infection may cost you your vision.

Cataracts

Well, cataracts are the most prevalent cause of vision loss in persons over 40. It is the gradual clouding over the eye lenses.

The main reason is exposure to IR and UV rays. That is why this injury is common among welders. If left untreated, they can cause reversible blindness.

What causes welding blindness: how welding can cause blindness and how it happens?

The eyes are an essential part of our body. However, the welding process emits harmful rays, dirt, and debris. So, is welding bad for your eyes? Can you go blind while working?

Well, you can. You will suffer if you don’t have any defense against bright UV light hazards.

Photokeratitis

Well, photokeratitis is one of the most common eye burn injuries among welders. People also call it “Welder’s Flash” or “Arc Eye.” It is essentially retinal sunburn.

The good news is that most often, the damage isn’t permanent and goes away with routine Antibiotic Drops and rest. Nevertheless, the pain can be excruciating.

Because welders have a high chance of getting an ocular flash burn, you must take proper steps to protect yourself if you work with or around them.

Unprotected exposure to UV radiation can cause a range of short-term eye disorders. Although these temporary consequences of UV damage may fade over time, continuous UV exposure can yellow both the lens and the cornea. You will have a hard time distinguishing color variation then.

On a more intense level, an arc eye can cause high damage too. If you don’t treat this properly, it might form an infection. Or if after suffering from photokeratitis once, you still don’t become cautious and adopt adequate UV protection, the rays might cause infection in the eyes.

Sufferers have stated that infection like this can cause welding blindness.

How to prevent blindness?

The only way to prevent eye injury is proper protection. There is no way around it. A helmet is a welder’s first line of defense against risks. You must always get new, high-quality welding helmets with top-notch welding goggles.

It provides dual protection. The helmet works as a defensive barrier. It not only protects your eyes, head, face, neck from ultraviolet radiation but also splatter, flying debris, sparks, and flames.

The lens of the goggle must be dark in color. Only the dark ones can block out harmful rays. You must consult with an expert while building safety gear.

Don’t just get inexpensive welding goggles just for the sake of it. Make sure it fits perfectly with your face, and there is no gap. Can’t let anything slip in now, can we?

Another thing you can do is put some eye drops before starting the welding process. It will protect your eyes from getting dry.

Conclusion

So, can you go blind from welding? Of course, you can. You don’t want to end up with welding blindness, right? The eyes are the most sensitive part of our body.

If you are not careful with it, the consequences will be dire. Always properly protect your eyes while working with any power tool.

Keep your workplace clean and safe. And make sure to have proper ventilation. An unwanted accident might just turn into a lifetime’s tear. So, always be careful.

Brandon M. Fox

I have completed Diploma at Welding. I have spent 10+ years in Welding. Now love to write about welding and welding products and share my own experiences. Find me: Twitter | Facebook

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