Safety should always be the top priority for welders, and this is equally true for smaller workshops and huge companies. Every year welders are seriously injured or even killed as they work, and most of these incidents are avoidable. Following strict safety protocols to avoid welders flash and other hazards is extremely important. In this article, we will take a closer look at welding arc flash and how you can prevent it.
What is Welders Flash?
The formal term for welders arc flash is photokeratitis. This is a painful eye problem that occurs when a person’s eyes are exposed to UV rays, in this particular case, that would be the ultraviolet light generated by the welding torch. This may feel like a case of sunburn for the eyes, which is as painful as you can imagine. Some other terms for photokeratitis are flash burn, arc eye, ultraviolet keratitis, and snow blindness.
What Are Welders Flash Symptoms
The welders flash symptoms can manifest only 30 minutes after the UV exposure occurs. But, it may take up to 12 hours, depending on the level of exposure. The most common symptom is severe pain in the affected eye and this may be in both eyes if they were equally exposed.
It’s common to experience light sensitivity (photophobia) which causes eye discomfort and headaches. Those affected by welders flash may feel like they have dirt, dust, or debris in their eyes when they are not present. Some other common symptoms include eyelid redness, tearing, a red face, and limited vision. Light sensitivity and eye irritation are common in other eye conditions.
But, if the afflicted person has been welding within the last 12 hours, it’s likely that they are experiencing photokeratitis.
Prevention Of Welding Arc Flash
Prevention is better than cure, particularly in the case of welders flash. There are three ways to prevent welders arc flash problems:
● Always wear a welders mask that entirely covers the eyes and that meets all safety standards.
● Protect the cornea of your eyes with coated safety goggles.
● Invest in sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB radiation.
The first two pieces of advice are the most relevant to welding.
Welders Flash Treatment
The diagnosis of welders flash is likely to include:
● An initial eye inspection to check for damage.
● The application of anesthetic drops to numb the eyes for an extended examination.
● The dropping of orange dye in the eyes to reveal damage that shows up under blue light (the dye is not harmful).
If the damage is confirmed, there are several treatment options.
Welding Flash Burn Eyes Home Treatment
Before we delve into treatments, we must address home treatment. If you search online, you can find a lot of home remedies for welders arc flash problems. These may offer some relief, but you shouldn’t trust unverified sources or take medical advice for eye conditions.
If you have experienced any of the symptoms, contact an eye doctor to get a diagnosis, and then you can discuss appropriate treatment.
Some of the common online advice includes:
● Avoid wearing contact lenses until the eyes have healed.
● Wear sunglasses to prevent eye sensitivity problems.
● Take codeine, ibuprofen or paracetamol to handle the pain.
● Use eye lubricant to alleviate eye discomfort.
Again, these are all solid suggestions if your eyes have been affected. But, any instructions for medication must be followed carefully, and this advice is no substitute for a doctor’s advice.
Seeking Medical Attention
When you seek medical attention to treat photokeratitis, there are four common treatment options available depending on the severity:
● Dilating Drops: These drops are used to relax the eye muscles to relieve pain and give the eyes time to heal properly. The pupil will look enlarged for several hours up to a few days, and the eyes may still be sensitive for a while.
● Padded Dressings: One or both eyes may require a padded dressing to block out all light and to rest them for healing. Even if you only have one eye patch, you should avoid operating machinery and driving due to depth perception issues.
● Antibiotics: It may be necessary to add antibiotic drops or ointment to your eyes to prevent an infection. Your doctor will tell you how to use eye drops or ointment and how often they should be applied. In some cases, the patient is given a mild anti-inflammatory steroid-based drop to apply.
● Medical Reviews: After the initial treatment, there will be a review in the next 24-48 hours to determine if the eyes are healing properly. In many cases, the patient is sent to a specialist eye doctor (ophthalmologist) for this evaluation.
When eye drops and ointments are applied to the eyes, there are some general rules to follow:
● Always wash your hands before you touch your eyes.
● Place your finger on your cheek and pull the lower eyelid down carefully.
● Tilt the head back and drop the liquid into the lower eyelid.
● Ointment users should smear a small volume on the lower eyelid taking great care to avoid touching the eye with the nozzle.
● The treatment should continue until the eyes are fully healed.
● All eye drops and ointment should be kept in the refrigerator out of the reach of kids.
There are four scenarios when you should see a doctor or visit the nearest emergency department:
● The pain is getting worse.
● Your eyes are becoming more susceptible to glare.
● You have blurred vision that is not caused by prescribed eye drops and ointment,
● You have concerns about your eyes.
Frequently Asked Question’s
How long does it take for welders flash to go away?
The superficial burning caused by welders flash tends to develop in 6-10 hours after exposure. This area will be extremely sensitive, and the pain may be intense, but it typically heals in 24-48 hours with no long-term health effects.
Is welders flash serious?
Yes, this is serious indirectly because the main threat is the possibility of infection if the welders flash is not treated. This may ultimately lead to a total loss of vision, so treatment is essential.
How long do you have to look at an arc to get welders flash?
It’s hard to give a definitive answer because the radiation intensity is strongly dependent on the distance to the arc. To stay safe, work on the assumption that any exposure should be avoided entirely.
Welding can be a dangerous activity if strict safety protocols are not observed. This is especially true when it comes to welding arc flash injuries that are entirely avoidable. If you follow the advice and guidance in this article, you can protect your eyes from potential injury and loss of vision.