According to WebMD, your eyes are the most highly developed sensory organ utilized. For good reason, as it provides a sense of sight, allowing us to detect light. However, your eyes are incredibly delicate instruments.
When it comes to visual perception, delicate is a good thing! Human eyes can adapt to varying levels of light, self-clean for a clearer picture, discern colors, discern depth, discern and motion, and detect danger. Avoiding danger is highly important, since the eyes are incredibly susceptible to injuries
. When welding, this is especially true, as a quarter of all welding injuries
involve the eyes. Even more concerning, nearly 10%
of all eye injuries occur from Welders flash.
“The eye is the jewel of the body” - Henry David Thoreau.
Most of us take eyesight for granted; only to do everything in our power to get it back once it is permanently impaired or gone. You only get one set of eyes at birth; there are no do-overs, like with baby teeth. Once this precious jewel is injured, you’ll be forced to deal with the aftermath of the injury. It only makes sense to know why this precious organ needs protected, definitely, when one is cutting, grinding and welding.
MCR Safety is in the business of protecting people. We want to make sure you know what you are protecting when wearing protective eyewear and why...
Key parts of the eye to know:
The cornea is the clear, outermost layer at the front of the eye. It serves to block things like germs and dust from entering the eye, and does much of the work of focusing light that enters the eye. The cornea has no blood vessels; it gets its nutrition and oxygen from tears. The cornea is the part of the eye that is most likely to be injured while welding.
The transparent structure behind the iris that, along with the cornea, helps focus light on the retina.
This pinpoint opening in the center of the iris allows light to enter.
The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye.
The sclera is the white outer layer of the eye. It covers and protects all the parts of the eye that are not covered by the cornea, which is situated at the very front. After the cornea, the sclera is the part of the eye most likely to be scratched or damaged.
We will keep your eyes protected!
Almost ALL eye injuries are preventable by using proper eyewear that provides protection both in the front and from the sides. Simply put, safety glasses save vision!
Keeping metal out of your eyes is one such preventable injury. However, in order to keep metal out of your eyes, we actually use metal to ensure one is wearing high quality safety glasses? A steel ball is used during the quality control and testing process, see below.
The High Impact Test
Metal ball used during testing and shot out at a velocity of 150 feet per second.
Eyewear being tested in our Innovations Technology Center (ITC lab). Metal ball is fired from the left towards the eyewear.
Fumes and chemical irritants when Welding
There are a number of different types of fumes
that welders may encounter in their work. Examples of welding fumes that are known to irritate the eyes include:
• Copper and alloys such as bronze and brass
• Fluorides, commonly used as electrode coatings and flux material
• Molybdenum, found in steel alloys, iron, stainless steel, and nickel alloys
• Vanadium, found in various alloys
Toxic gases and fumes
Although typical goggles and face shields can protect the eyes from many injuries, they cannot keep out fumes. For this reason, it is critical to have excellent ventilation and exhaust systems when welding.
Some irritants come in liquid form, and can splash into the eyes. If you’re working with these kinds of chemicals (including detergents and other cleaning agents), make sure that you’re using appropriate eyewear. Flush eyes with cold, clean water immediately if you end up with a known chemical irritant in your eye. If the substance is caustic, get medical care as soon as possible.
Dust, debris, and foreign objects
Dust and flying debris are common causes of eye injuries in the metalworking field, and this hazard is not exclusive to welders. Cutting metal and grinding tasks in particular tend to result in a lot of dust, which can scratch the cornea if proper PPE is not worn.
UD2150G has a foam lining, keeping the dust out of your eyes
Because the cornea is so sensitive, you’ll feel it if you get dust, grit, or even an eyelash in your eye. If blinking doesn’t help, try flushing the eye with water or saline.
Minor corneal scratches are fairly common as eye injuries go, and will typically heal on their own. However, deeper injuries may create scarring of the cornea, which can impede vision for life.
So what if this goes beyond the cornea and something is actually lodged in the eye itself? Metal splinters, molten metal, and even objects like nails can become accidentally embedded in the eye. In these extreme cases, do not attempt to remove the object! Only a medical professional should attempt this. Call 911 immediately and follow their instructions.
UV radiation is absorbed by the cornea of the eye, so bright flashes such as those often found in welding environments can cause burns in this structure. This phenomenon is sometimes known as flash burn, welder’s flash, or arc eye, but in the doctor’s office it’s known as UV keratitis. (Other causes of UV keratitis include looking directly at eclipses and looking at bright sunlight reflected off of water or snow.)
Welder’s flash usually appear 3-12 hours after the eyes were exposed to UV radiation. Symptoms include:
• Irritation and pain
• Sensitivity to light
• Feeling like there’s something in your eye
• Blurry vision
• Excessive tears
With proper medical care, the cornea will usually heal and your vision will return to normal. There are long term risks associated with repeated UV exposure, however. Wearing the right eye protection in the right way is the ONLY way to prevent flash burn. With so many eyewear options designed and labeled specifically for welding, there is no excuse for leaving your eyes unprotected!
Additional Welding Eyewear resources
• OSHA's Filtering during Welding
• Handling Common Eyewear injuries
• ISHN All about welder's flash or arc eye
• Eye injury (Flash burns)
The vast majority of eye injuries are preventable.
A thorough understanding of the hazards you face, appropriate techniques to employ, and proper PPE worn are absolutely necessary to working safely in welding. If you’re not sure what you need, ask one of our experts. Don’t let ignorance leave you blind.
Lastly, for more on metalworking hazards, along with our Metalworking Buying Guide and Metal Fabrication Application Guide, check out our Metal Fabrication industry resource page.
For over 40 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it’s on a shop floor, an oil rig, or a construction site, we are there providing solutions to workplace hazards. We Protect People!
Learn more about MCR Safety by checking out our most recent video. Click here for more information or simply give us a call at 800-955-6887.