16–JULY-21012Welding Safety–Eye Protection
There are many hazards associated with welding operations. In fact, over 25% of welding mishaps are injuries to the eye(s). Arcing electricity produces three formsof powerful radiation: infrared, visible light and ultraviolet. Each category presentsa unique set of hazards.
Infrared energy, or heat, is low frequency energy that is not visible. Depending onthe wavelength, infrared light is most damaging to the surface of the eye (cornea)and lens. Overheating of the lens leadsto cataract formation (clouding of thelens).
Visible light is light that you can see. When you see the bright white welding arcyou are only sensing the visible light region (even though there is infrared andultraviolet light being emitted aswell). This intense light can damage the sensingarea (retina) at the back of the eye.
Within the scope of welding, UV light is themost damaging radiation and isabsorbed primarily by the cornea. Eyes can beexposed to an enormous amountof harmful UV light in a very short period of timethrough unprotected viewing ofthearc. Within seconds you can give your corneas severe burns without evenknowingit. The result is photokeratitis (more commonly referred to as ‘Welder’sFlash’ or ‘ArcEye’). Symptoms usually flare up several hours after exposure.Symptoms include light sensitivity, reddening and pain described as sandpaperbehind the eyelids. Fortunately, the eyes typically recover from this burn.Due to the hazards listed above, a welder’s helmet must always be worn.Squintingdoes not help. Many mistakenlybelieve that the shade numbercorresponds to theUV factor; however, this isincorrect. All quality weldinghelmets have lenses thatprovide 100% UV and IR protection, regardless ofshade level. The shade is thereto dim the bright visible light of the arc to preventretinal damage and promoteeasier viewing of the welding work. It is important towear safety glasses with sideshields underneath your helmet. This providesprotectionduring grinding or othercommon operations when the helmet is flippedup.