If you’re an artist who creates metal sculptures or someone who does metal work as part of a hobby, make sure you’re wearing the proper eye protection. If your activity involves welding or brazing, a pair of dark tinted glasses will not do. Most people with welding or brazing experience know that without the right protection, exposure to the intense radiant light from these activities will damage your sight and possibly cause blindness over the long-term. However, if you’re new to these activities and are self-taught, you may not appreciate the hazards. Three important hazards are:
This is the same UV radiation that also comes from sunlight that causes sunburn, snow blindness, skin cancer, eye cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye health problems. With welding, however, the UV exposure is more intense. This is why dark sunglasses aren’t sufficient. Eye cataracts and macular degeneration, both of which can cause blindness when left untreated, occur gradually with long-term exposure to UV.
Visible and Infrared Light
Can visible light damage your eyes? It can if it’s sufficiently bright. The brightness, or intensity of light, is a measure of its energy. Super intense bright light packs a lot of energy, which gets focused by your eye’s lens onto the retina. This focused energy will have damaging effects. In fact, the effect is not unlike staring into a laser beam. The brilliant white/blue light of welding is intense enough to cause eye damage over the long-term.
The brazing process also produces sufficient light intensity to cause damage as well. Both welding and brazing produce intense infrared radiation (heat radiation) that also damages the eyes through long-term exposure. This isn’t surprising since both operations produce heat that’s intense enough to melt metal.
Sparks and Metal Spatter
Both welding and brazing produce flying sparks, slag chips, and metal spatter that can instantly damage an unprotected eye. Unlike your skin, which will heal from these burns with little long-term impact, similar damage to your eyes threatens your ability to see.
While welding helmets are essential for protecting the face and eyes from UV, infrared, light radiation, and spatter impact, welding glasses worn underneath should be used as a backup.
Because you’re a hobbyist, there’s no one around, such as a supervisor, to require you to wear protection. But the dangers are the same as those found in manufacturing environments that use welding and brazing. Make sure you wear the same welding and brazing glasses as used in these places. For more information on the type of welding and brazing glasses you should wear, please contact us.