Refractive Errors 101: Everything You Need to Know About Welder's Flash

welder setting up plasma cutter

Welding Buddy Experts

July 5, 2022
an example of corneal flash burn or welder's flash

Welders have often been called the new knights of the industrial age because of their ability to endure the extreme dangers of welding, like burns, respiratory irritation, or exposure to welding fumes. 

However, this still comes with a price even though their body can tolerate it—including their eyesight.

This mishap can lead to severe painful injuries like corneal flash burns. We will cover all you need to know about this type of eye injury and how you should be aware of this hazard. We will also help you to take action to protect yourself if you have ever experienced one.

Inside the Welder's Eyes: An Overview of Corneal Flash Burns

The cornea is the eye's thin, protective outer layer that sends reflections to the retina. When light hits the cornea, it triggers a reflexive contraction of the pupil to limit the number of light rays that enter the eye. 

But sometimes, that process does not go smoothly, and the new cells don't line up correctly due to too much light exposure. This is where the burning or stinging sensation of the eye occurs, leading to eye problems like corneal flash burns.

Primarily, ultraviolet rays are the biggest villain of welders. These are electromagnetic waves with a shorter wavelength than visible light. UV photons are classified into three types: 

  • Ultraviolet A rays (UVA)
  • Ultraviolet B rays (UVB)
  • Ultraviolet C rays (UVC)

UVC rays are the most dangerous. However, UVA and UVB rays are all present in the UV arc that causes pain to the skin and eyes, leading to corneal burns, cataracts, and other vision problems. 

In addition to ultraviolet lights, welding fumes contribute to corneal flash burns. These are tiny particles of metal created when welding or soldering. They have a higher chance of getting lodged in the eyes and irritating them.

Possible Indications of Corneal Flash Burns

There are always bad signs during welding. And, when it comes to our eyes, the consequences can be disastrous. So it is important to identify the symptoms if you experience a corneal flash burn to remove the gritty feeling in your eyes and get the necessary treatment. 

Although that can vary depending on the intensity and duration of exposure, the symptoms of this eye burn typically include the following:

  • Redness: Also known as bloodshot eyes, the redness usually occurs when the eye's blood vessels are dilated or ruptured.
  • Swelling: The cornea may become enlarged and hazy, and the eyelid may swell shut.
  • Sensitivity to light: The eyes may be extremely sensitive to light, so it can be difficult to open them in bright conditions.
  • Tearing:  The damaged eye may produce excess tears as the body attempts to wipe out the irritants.

Most individuals recover from corneal flash burns without long-term consequences if they receive immediate care. Nonetheless, you need to take efforts to protect your eyes from UV rays to avoid this type of harm in the future.

Welder's Flash Eye Treatments: 6 Ways to Reduce Eye Pain

welders flash - Closeup view of old man applying eye drop

Welders' flashes can be extremely hazardous to your eyes, but there is hope. You only need the right equipment and precautions taken in order not only to protect yourself from injury but also to ensure that you do not lose vision forever. 

Here are some recommendations for relieving eye discomfort:

1. Take action right away.

The first approach to eliminating the threat is to flush your eyes with clean, cool water for at least 15 minutes. This action will help soothe the burning sensation and remove any irritants lingering on your eyeballs.

2. Avoid rubbing your eyes.

It is necessary to avoid rubbing or touching your eye once you experience any of these symptoms. It can further damage the cornea and prolong the healing process. Instead, try to blink frequently or press a cool, damp cloth against your eye. 

3. Apply an eye patch or eye shield.

Do not attempt to remove any foreign objects stuck in your eye. Alternatively, apply an eye patch or shield to protect the injured eye from further irritation. 

4. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

You should take medications like Ibuprofen to reduce the intense pain of your burning eyes.

5. Wear personal protective equipment.

There are available safety gears that you can use for your welding. Welding glasses, for example, are specially designed to protect your eyes from the bright light, fumes, and particles produced during welding. 

A welding hood can also conceal your whole head and face. This light-blocking protective covering is constructed of dark material. It also has a lens on a welding hood that filters out harmful UV rays.

6. Visit an eye doctor.

Doctors will typically recommend using an artificial tear or a steroid eye drop to reduce inflammation and promote healing. In some circumstances, antibiotic eye drops may be prescribed to prevent infection. 

With adequate care, most people recover completely from corneal flash burns within a week or two. It is imperative, though, to follow your doctor's recommendations and use the prescribed therapies until your eyes are entirely healed.

With the help of these welder's flash burn treatments, you can continue welding without fear of damaging your vision.

Escape the Red Sights, Follow the Hazards Control

Welders are at risk of developing corneal flash burns. These eye injuries can be painful and lead to long-term visual difficulties if not treated properly. That is why welders need to know what causes them and how their symptoms should look to ensure they get a welder's flash treatment quickly.

Here at Welding Buddy, we recognize the importance of welding safety and want to make sure that all welders have the best chance of recovering from ocular flash burns. If you wanna know more about the welding process and hazards, browse more of our website and check our reviews to help keep you safe while welding.

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