Flash Burns in Eyes: How to Treat This Welder's Mishap

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Welding Buddy Experts

May 13, 2022
flash burn eyes welding

You've just come out of your garage from a long hard day of welding, and you notice your eyes feel irritated. You might suddenly be experiencing headaches. It is probably due to flash burns. 

One of the common challenges people face when trying to learn home treatment for flash burns in their eyes is that there is misinformation. It is hard to tell if you have flash burns as it has similar symptoms to overfatigue. As a result, you delay seeking treatment or ignore your eye pain entirely. 

If you're struggling to find accurate and helpful information about home treatment for flash burns in eyes because of welding, you're not alone. Welders know that there is always a risk of getting burned, but few realize the danger of flash burns to the eyes. Here's how to recognize and treat a flash burn.

A Closer Look at Flash Burns

Flash burn is no joke. It's one of the most serious things that can happen to your eyes, and it can happen instantly. So whether you're looking at the sun during a solar eclipse or getting hit with a stray beam, flash burns are something that you need to take seriously. 

That's why it's important to know the symptoms of a flash burn so that you can get medical help as soon as possible. Flash burn can cause permanent damage to your eyes, so don't hesitate to get help if you think you might have it.

How Do Welders Get Flash Burns?

Welders are at risk for photokeratitis, or "arc eye," when their eyes are exposed to the bright flashes of UV radiation given off by welding torches. 

Can Safety Gear Help Protect You From UV Exposure?

It's absolutely dangerous to weld without any safety glasses. Unfortunately, clear safety glasses do not filter out harmful UV light. At the same time, most welding helmets have a filter that lets in some UV light so the welder can see what they are doing. The amount of UV exposure depends on the welding process and how close the welder's eyes are to the arc. 

Safety goggles or helmets with shade five lenses will protect you against harmful UV and IR exposure. You also need these safety gear to protect yourself from welder's flash burns. Take note that the flash of your welding torch will affect anyone close to the welding station.

Can You Go Blind With Flash Burn?

The cornea is also pretty resilient and usually heals within a few days without permanent damage. However, if the burn is severe or not treated properly, it can lead to infection, resulting in blindness.

Causes of Flash Burns

As a welder, you know better than anyone the importance of protecting your eyes from the powerful flashes of light that come with welding. But did you know that there are other causes of flash burns besides your welding torch? Things like:

  • Sunlamps
  • Reflections off the snow
  • Photographer's floor lamps
  • Harsh lightning
  • Halogen lamps
  • Direct sunlight
  • Solar eclipses
  • Reflections in the water 

Basically, any extreme exposure to UV radiation is a cause of flash burn.

Flash burn eyes remedy and symptoms

Symptoms of Flash Burns

Symptoms of a welder's eye can be both immediate and delayed. Immediate symptoms, such as redness and pain, can occur within 30 minutes of exposure to UV radiation. However, delayed symptoms, such as swelling and blistering, may not appear for at least 12 hours. 

Other symptoms of welder's flash include:

  • Redness on the face 
  • Eyelid redness 
  • Decreased vision 
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Eye irritation 

A welder's flash can lead to permanent eye damage in severe cases. Therefore, if you experience these symptoms, it is better to seek a doctor's opinion for proper tests and treatment.

Eye Examination for Flash Burns 

Your doctor might do two kinds of tests to see the severity of the eye pain caused by the arc eye to get you the treatment you need.

The first test is called the slit lamp test. The ophthalmologist will use a special microscope to check if there is any damage to your eye, especially on your cornea. Next, your doctor will look for inflammation, injury, or degeneration signs. If the damage is severe, you may need to be treated with steroids or other medications. Plus, further tests may be needed for a more accurate treatment plan. 

Another way to check the severity of your eye pain is with a visual acuity test, a more common test to determine if you are experiencing any vision impairment. This test can be done using the Snellen or random E test. 

Flash Burn in Eyes: Home Treatment and Medical Treatment

If you've ever been unfortunate enough to experience a flash burn, you know how incredibly painful it can be. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to ease your eye pain and speed up the healing process.

If you are welding and experiencing eye pain, it is important to remove your welding helmet or goggles immediately. Moreover, it is highly recommended that you steer clear of wearing your contact lenses for the time being. Instead, we suggest that you use shades to protect your eyes from any light exposure.

Over-the-counter eye drops may improve the discomfort in your eye. However, if the pain persists, seek medical attention. Welding can cause serious damage to your eyes, so it is important to take any welding-related eye pain seriously.

There are several different treatment options for corneal flash burns:

  1. Dilating drops relax the eye muscles and decrease discomfort.
  2. Patching or covering the eye can also help. Another is to use an ice pack or a cool compress to decrease inflammation.
  3. Applying eye drops or gels can help soothe the eyes and prevent them from dryness.
  4. Wearing dark glasses or staying in a dark room helps prevent further eye strain.

In severe cases, you may need a more aggressive flash burn eye remedy. In addition, your eye doctor may ask you to take antibiotic eye drops or ointments to treat or prevent infections.

Welder with flash burn: flash burn eyes home treatment


So, if you're a welder or work in an industry where you might be exposed to bright UV light, it's important to take some precautions to protect your eyes. We highly advise you to wear the right safety gear with the highest shade lens. If you do experience any flashes or burns, make sure to see your eye doctor right away for treatment. 

We have some great welding helmets and other safety gear reviews on our website that can help keep you safe while you're working. Check them out today!

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