Welder's flash is a painful injury sustained by welders and those working around them without the proper safety gear. Welder's flash affects the cornea of the eye, causing an injury similar to a sunburn. Other terms for welder's flash include arc eye, photokeratitis and snow blindness, according to the Drugs.com website.
Welder's flash, or corneal flash burns, result from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This is common when arc welding, or creating an electric arc between an electrode and the material it is melting. This produces a form of ultraviolet radiation that burns the cornea if proper safety gear is not worn.
Visible signs of welder's flash may or may not be available. Some common signs are redness on or around the eye and swelling on your eyelid. A hazy or cloudy film may appear over your eyes if you have welder's flash.
You may experience a loss of visual sensitivity and your eyes may feel tired. If your eyesight becomes worse, this is a symptom of welder's flash. A gritty feeling in your eye, as if sand got in your eye, is in it is a common symptom if you have damaged your cornea.
Medical attention is necessary in the majority of welder's flash cases to prevent permanent damage and secondary infection. Treatment involves treating the symptoms of welder's flash. Often an eye patch and eye drops are provided. Additionally, an antibiotic may be prescribed to prevent infection. If the pain is severe, your physician will administer pain relievers. Wearing sunglasses provides relief from bright light due to light sensitivity.
A welding helmet with a shield is a necessity when welding. It should have the proper shade of lens on the face shield. Safety glasses, approved for welders, block a large percentage of ultraviolet rays that cause welder's flash. Therefore, wearing safety glasses when welding or working around someone else who welds helps prevents eye injuries caused by welder's flash.