Safety – Flash Burns

Preventing Eye Injuries When Welding

A flash burn is a painful inflammation of the cornea, which is the clear tissue that covers the front of the eye. A flash burn occurs when you are exposed to bright ultraviolet (UV) light. It can happen in all types of UV light but is a common problem among welders, or those exposed to welding activities. That is why it is sometimes called welder’s flash or arc eye.

Luckily the cornea repairs itself rapidly and without leaving any scars. In most cases, healing takes place in one to two days; if you follow all instruction and protect your eyes from further damage.

What is the damage?

  • The cornea is the part of the eye that is damaged when the proper eye protection is not used. 
  • Flash Burn is like having sunburn on your eyes.
  • Corneal damage from flash burns can be very painful.
  • The cornea can repair itself in one to two days without leaving any scaring.
  • Permanent damage may include loss of vision.

First Aid for Flash Burn!

  • It can take 3 to 12 hours after exposure to begin noticing the symptoms.
  • Notify your Foreman or Superintendent immediately.
  • Remove contact lenses (if you wear them) until the eyes have healed.
  • If both eyes are red and painful do not swab or rub, use the eyewash station gently, but thoroughly. Tilt your head back and drop the liquid in behind your lower eyelid.
  • Use artificial tears and lubricants to help with discomfort.


  • Wear protective glasses to protect the cornea from exposure to ultraviolet light and a welder’s hood when welding.
  • Make sure that your welding shield has the correct shake of filter.
  • Use shields around your work areas to  protect others from arc flashes.
  • Wear tinted safety glasses if your eyes are sensitive to light.
  • Burned tissue is susceptible to infection so monitor until pain free.

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