If you’re a welder or have a welding helmet sitting around, you may be wondering “can you look at the sun with a welding helmet?” Before you decide to look at the sun with your helmet on, it’s important to know the facts so that you don’t damage your eyes.
Can You Look at the Sun with a Welding Helmet?
Welding sparks are bright and can cause not only burns to the skin but damage to the eyes. You need to have special equipment available for welding, and you also need special equipment when you look at the sun.
Welding helmets are designed to protect against bright sparks.
The sun, on the other hand, is so dangerous to look at that people can go blind by looking directly at it. You want to be as careful as possible when looking at the sun, even with the right gear.
When asked on Reddit, it was determined that a welding helmet needs a shade 14 lens to look at an eclipse. You’ll need the same high-level lens to be able to look right at the sun.
What is a Shade 14 Lens?
Generally, it’s recommended that a welder choose welding lens that are a shade 10 to 13. If you have a welding lens that is this strong, it will protect against flash burn of the eyes. Flash burn is a very real threat, and it is dependent on the amperage you’re using.
A welder can burn their eyes multiple times, and when this happens, it feels like a grain of hot sand stuck in your eye.
But the sun is brighter than the flash from a welding spark.
Welding lens shade of 14 is the ideal shade for being able to look at the sun, although many recommend Shade 12. If you decide to look at the sun with a lower shade lens, you’ll be risking damage to your eyes. A shade 13 lens lessens the amount of damage to the eyes, but you still can sustain damage if you look at the sun with these lower shade ranges on.
You’ll want to be cautious of looking at the sun with lower-end lens shades.
There have been some complaints that when a person purchases a lens, they may receive a lower shade by accident. All manufacturers are not created equal either. There are some manufacturers that are selling cheap lenses and they may cut corners on the shading material that they use.
A Shade 14 filter is very dark, so you will have your vision distorted when looking through the lens already. It’s difficult to view the sun with this dark of a shade, and you can imagine this shade as a much darker color than sunglasses or anything similar.
The dimming power is what allows you to look at the sun without the need for special glasses, such as eclipse glasses.
NASA claims that glasses with an ISO 12312-2 will be your best bet if you plan on looking at the sun. These glasses offer filtering that allows you to stare at the sun, but you’ll also want to be cautious of older models. If the lens doesn’t state that it meets this ISO rating, you should not look at the sun.
You can normally view the ISO rating on the shield or on the packing that is provided with a welding helmet.
When in doubt, contact the manufacturer to determine the ISO rating and to ask what level of shade your lens is before looking at the sun.
What Looking at the Sun Can Do to Your Eyes?
We’ve talked a lot about looking directly into the sun, but what exactly happens to you when you look at the sun? We think everyone has covered their eyes with their hand and looked at the sun to some degree, but not all of us have had our eyes damaged.
People often want to look at an eclipse because they have a few seconds that they can see the moon covering the sun.
Staring directly at the sun, even for a few seconds, is enough to burn your eyes. These burns can be very serious, and the damage to your eyes will be very serious.
When you look at the sun, you’ll quickly notice that your eyes will begin to burn and you’ll start to blink a lot. Instinctively, most people will turn away from the sun because they want to do their best to avoid the discomfort that their eyes experience from the sun’s rays.
The sun’s ultraviolet light will enter the eye and hit the back of the eye reaching the retina. Your retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the inner eye. UV rays normally enter the eye and will cause a bunch of free radicals to form.
Free radicals will cause oxidation around the eye’s tissue. The end result, as oxidation, is:
- Oxidative damage to the eye.
- Rod and cone photoreceptor damage.
You’ll find that everyone’s eyes respond to the sun differently, but the damage can occur to the eye within a period of just a few seconds.
Symptoms of Eye Damage
Eye damage can be sudden, and people don’t tend to listen to all of the warnings against looking at the sun. If you wear an appropriate welding helmet, you’ll have protection from the following symptoms:
- Sore eyes
- Watery eyes
- Bright light discomfort
You might be thinking “those symptoms don’t sound bad,” but these are the minor symptoms. Serious symptoms from staring at the sun are:
- Vision distortion
- Blurred vision
- Loss of color vision
- Blind spots
Permanent eye damage can occur, and it may be impossible to restore your vision if you do look at the sun for too long. The damage is long-lasting even if your vision does correct itself after a few months or longer.
If you suspect that you have serious eye damage, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. Your doctor will discuss the appropriate measures to take to correct your vision if possible.
There is no standard treatment for solar retinopathy.
Recovering from the damage to your eyes will take time. You may have to wait anywhere from one month to an entire year for your eyesight to be back to normal. There are occasions when a person damages their eyes to the extent that they’re unable to recover their vision again.
Antioxidant therapies may be able to help you restore your vision, but you’ll want to discuss this option with your doctor. Studies are still ongoing with antioxidant therapy and sun damage to the eyes.
Doctors all over the world agree: do not stare directly at the sun. You may never feel pain from looking at the sun, but by the time you realize that your vision is damaged, it may be too late. The risk of damaging your eyes is very high when looking at the sun or even a partial eclipse when the sun’s harmful rays are hidden away.
Now that you know the answer to “can you look at the sun with a welding helmet,” remember to be safe and don’t look at the sun with your naked eyes. The sun’s brightness can cause significant damage to your eyesight, but with the right eye covering, you can look at the sun for a short time during an eclipse.