Have you ever had a flash burn to your eyes when welding? I have been pretty lucky and never experienced it myself, but I have heard stories from guys who have, and it’s not pretty.
So it was interesting to me that it was actually the UV emitted when welding that causes flash burn, the same sort of UV that we experience each day when we are outdoors. Sure when welding it’s a much higher level of UV, but still with the UV levels we experience here in Australia, not wearing some sort of eye protection means that we are potentially leaving ourselves open to some long term eye damage.
And apparently you can sustain short term damage to your eye from overexposure to UV as well, sort of like sunburn to your cornea, which can cause inflammation and irritation. That is bad enough, but the longer term damage is even worse, including cataracts which can cause the lens of your eye to become so cloudy that you can no longer see, or macular degeneration which can also cause blindness, and pterygium which is a gross condition where the conjunctiva grows over part of your eye.
It seems simple to me – for most of us, if we can’t see, we can’t work. So wearing protective glasses whenever outside is so obvious, I’m not going to listen to any excuses.
If you haven’t got some already, go to your nearest workwear store and get yourself some good protective glasses. They protect you from UV and impact, and only cost a couple of bucks a pair (and they are tax deductable). Grab some clear and tinted pairs, because you can get both with excellent UV protection, and then you are covered whether it is sunny or slightly overcast.
I know most of you are pretty good at protecting your eyes, but there are still some muppets out there that just don’t seem to get it, so be a good bloke and remind your workmates to take the glasses off their head or out of their pocket and get them onto their face.