Does Welding Hurt Your Eyes

A slew of stuff could be damaging to welders’ vision. A flurry of rays gets emitted from an arc generated by electrical current burning through fillers and slag.

But how does welding hurt your eyes when you’re too close? That seems to be a question several welders don’t have an answer to. If you don’t have an idea what welding arc light can do, there’s no hassle.

All questions you might have about how welding hurts eyes are in this piece. Also, preventive measures against such hazards also get a closer look right here.

Undoubtedly, when you’re done, you’ll get maximum protection from welding arc light without hassle.

What is Welder’s Flash?

Welder’s flash or arc-eye is an eye condition common to welders. Scientifically termed photo-keratitis, it is a result of radiation emitted from a welding arc. It is a condition that may take several hours of cumulative welding to develop.

Symptoms of Welder’s Flash

  • Mild to intense eye pain
  • Unnatural sensitivity to light
  • Not being able to look at a light source
  • Regular watering of eyes
  • Reddened eyes
  • Sand feeling in the eyes

How Does UV and IR Harm the Eyes?

At close range and without protection, welding arcs produce arcs harmful to the eyes. The arc has a composition of visible and invisible rays. These rays interfere with the iris, retina, cornea, and lenses, stunting proper vision.

What Type of Radiation Do Welding Processes Emit?

Welding arcs release radiation on a massive scale. With so many welding processes having differing arc intensity, the possible wavelength is massive.

Arcs could range within 190nm to over 1450nm. The ranges are differentiated as UV (ultraviolet rays), VL (visible light), and IR (infrared) radiation. UV radiation gives off the lowest wavelength while IR has a higher ray band.

Eye Problems Welding UV and IR Radiation Can Cause

  • Cataract
  • Pterygium
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

How to Protect Your Eyes from Bright Arc Light When Welding


Personal protective equipment (PPE) is equipment designed to protect workers against safety and health hazards. Most workplaces have hazards they need to navigate. When it comes to welding, arc or welder’s flash is a major hazard.

Adequate PPE is necessary to forestall any occurrence of hazards injuring welders. And with the required optical PPE, it becomes more comfortable to carry out welding tasks for long periods without harm.

Consider making the most of selecting welding goggles or helmets based on your needs.

Selecting the right filter is integral to maximizing protection against radiation.

Pre-Weld Risk Assessment

Apart from putting on the right PPE during a welding operation, risk assessment is pivotal for safer eye protection.

Consider the immediate environment where your join operation will take place. Then progress to make the most of eliminating reflective surfaces that could interfere with your protective wear.

Ambient and reflective light could limit the ability of a welding helmet to block out arc light in record time. With the situation assessed, it becomes easier to block out external rays for smoother shade from your helmet.

Maintaining a distance from arc flash

Welder’s flash could be hard to spot for some newbie welders. But the intensity of radiation it can beam onto onlookers may be damaging.

Most people think welders are the only ones open to arc flash, but that’s rarely true. Welder’s flash can affect everyone within a distance of the join operation.

Anyone closer than ten meters from a bright arc light should have protective equipment against such rays. If you’re not putting on goggles, then you must be behind a welding curtain.

There’s a consensus that welding flash diminishes decreases as you go far from the source. But actively viewing the bright arc light for long periods could be damaging, even if you’re ten meters away.

Industry-standard safety wear

Some welders are in a rush to get cheaper safety gear to save some extra cash. But if you care for your eyes, the price shouldn’t matter. What should matter is the quality of your safety gear.

Eye safety equipment usually comes with passes from standardization bodies. So, consider getting an EN379, CSA, or ANSI-approved helmet before gunning for a cheap, generic option.

Passes on your eye safety gear mean it has the right makeup to keep your vision intact even during long periods.

Aside from Radiation, What Else Can Damage Welders’ Eyes

Harsh electrical arc light could interfere with a welder’s retina, stunting proper vision over time.

Best Practices to Protect Yourself from Harm When Welding

Use auto-dim helmets

Protecting your eyes from harsh arc light becomes easier with auto-dim helmets. Auto-dim helmets feature variable shade lenses designed to protect welders from intense electrical arcs.

Sensors on these helmets spot bright light in fractions of a second and signal the lenses to darken. With such protection, you rarely have to worry about the welder’s eyes during a metalwork operation.

Wear full-length jackets

Putting on long-sleeved welding jackets protects you from significant weld fumes or spatter contact. Several budget options are on sale, making a quick, safe choice less hassling.

Choose head protection with neck covering

When you have to weld for long periods, chances are debris and fumes could get to your clothing.

Consider getting a helmet with support for neck protection. Such protective wear limits the chances of harsh rays, fumes, or debris getting to your neck area.

Take breaks in confined space welding

If you’re going to be in a challenging weld op, say welding a pipe’s interior, this applies to you.

In such confined spaces, there’s a limited chance of air and fluid mobility. Challenging welds that could take more than 10mins to complete should have breaks within. Fumes and bright arc light in such a tight space may have adverse effects over time.

But with three to five-minute breaks in between, you can recalibrate your access to air and get better vision.

Other Possible Hazards from Welding Light and Radiation

Skin burns

UV radiation from welding arcs could cause significant burns to the skin just like other harsh ray sources. Direct radiation from welding arc results in burns, so does reflections too.

Indirect reflections from pieces of metal, unpainted walls, ceilings, etc. may also result in skin burns on contact.


Excessive UV radiation isn’t ideal for the skin on many fronts. And with too many UV rays beaming on welders’ skins, there’s a high chance of cancers developing.

Forestalling such an occurrence requires donning protective clothing and exiting the welding spot before removing PPE.

Other Tools That Can Cause Harm to the Skin and Eyes

Angle grinders

Residue from angle and table grinders could fly several meters away. Hot metal residue from angle grinders could cause skin burns and damage to the eyes.

Cutting tools

Plasma or torch cutters, band, or chop saws can cause significant damage to the skin and eyes with flying debris.

Buffing tools

Polishing metals could result in increased projectile motion of residue. Such residue may come in contact with the skin and eyes, which could result in significant damage.

Other sanding tasks with a stiff wire or flap wheel on angle grinders could pose a similar risk.


Is welding harmful to the eyes?

Welding is harmful to unprotected eyes as it can result in a cataract with long-term exposure. Pronounced brightness from welding arc light could interfere with the lens, iris, and retina.

How far away can welding hurt your eyes?

Welding arc light could cause considerable hurt to the eyes at a range of up to 50 feet. Reflections from the environment usually increase the chances of weld arcs affecting human vision.

Can watch welding on TV hurt your eyes?

Watching welding on TV cannot hurt your eyes. Your screen can’t transmit the harmful IR light to your eyes, and the cameras can’t too.

Do welders go blind?

Improper eye protection against arc light leads to photo-keratitis or welder’s flash. Short-term exposure to light causes temporary eye issues. Long-term exposure could result in permanent blindness.

Is there a safe distance to watch welding?

Standing at least ten meters from a welding arc is a safe enough distance to watch welding. Being any closer to bright arc light from welds require protective equipment.

Why can’t you watch a welding flame?

Welding flame comes with many UV rays capable of damaging eyesight with excess exposure.

Final Word

Welding is an interesting experience, particularly when you’re into it as a newbie. But without the right protection, this exciting process could result in several health issues.

The only way to make the most of welding with increased safety is to stock up on essential info.

When you max out getting correct details, you won’t shrug off a question like – does welding hurt your eyes? Instead, you’ll be more equipped to provide your inquisitive colleague essential info for maximum eye protection.

Also, aside from getting essential info for maximum eye protection, this piece comes with other facts for general welding safety. Taking cues from this post will make your welding operations smoother, and safer, than ever!