Flash burns (welders flash) are common painful complaints following welding on farms. Flash burns occur when the cornea (the clear tissue that covers your eyes) has been exposed to ultraviolet light. Flash burns are like sunburn in the eye. A flash burn occurs when you are exposed to bright ultraviolet (UV) light when using a welding device. Sources of UV light include a welding torch, direct sunlight, reflection of the sun off water or snow, a sunlamp and other lamps including halogen lamps.
Flash burn symptoms develop five to 10 hours after exposure, and include burning watery eyes, red eyes, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and feeling like you have something in your eye. They can be easily prevented by using eye protection such as a welder’s mask.
Flash burn can be incredibly painful. Treatment – depending on severity, may include: local anaesthetic drops, pain killers and eye padding to rest the eye. Flash burns can become infected and require antibiotic treatment. If infections are left untreated there is an increased risk of vision impairment and loss.
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References used for this topic page
Better Health Channel
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Healthlink British Columbia
National Ag Safety Database (US)
College of Optometrists (UK)
Research & reviews:
Monash University – Monash Injury Research Institute
Last updated: 7th February, 2019