Eye Hazards

Eye Hazards

There are no second chances when it comes to your eyes

  • The most common eye injuries from UV/IR radiation are retinal burns and flash burns to the cornea. These high intensity light injuries are preventable when the proper protection is worn and used accordingly. Different applications require different protection, and it is critical to choose the equipment that is most appropriate for your job situation.


Arc-eye occurs when the surface of the eye is exposed to excessive ultraviolet (UV) radiation—usually when an arc is accidentally struck while the welding helmet is in the up position or the eyes are otherwise unprotected. Long-term over-exposure to arc radiation is linked to retinal burns, cataracts and skin cancer.

High-speed particles

Foreign body eye injuries occur when material such as dust, grinding swarf or weld spatter gets into the eye. When a particle(s) penetrates the outer layer of the eye and enters the eye it is called a penetrating foreign body. These particles or objects are usually traveling at high speed and are commonly made of metal. A penetrating eye injury can be extremely serious, leading to blindness if not detected and treated promptly.

How to beat the eye injury statistics

Put simply, auto-darkening welding filters allow welders to keep their eye and face protection — their welding helmet — in place much more often than passive welding filters. If you can always see, the motivation to constantly lift your helmet is significantly reduced, meaning:

  • You reduce the likelihood of exposure to harmful UV/IR radiation by accidentally striking an arc. Or being exposed to the arcs of nearby welders. Beyond the temporary, sand-in-the-eyes pain of arc eye, long term over-exposure to arc radiation is linked to retinal burns, cataracts, and skin cancer.
  • You reduce the potential for foreign body eye injuries from grinding swarf or weld spatter.
  • You never have to nod your welding helmet down again (your neck will thank you). Eliminating the nodding motion also means your hands are less likely to move, keeping your electrode precisely where you want it for the critical start of each weld. And that may lead to better welds, less grinding, and less rework.
  • Another productivity and safety gain from auto-darkening filters: you can enter tight, cramp spaces with your eye and face protection already in place. This can make even awkward welds a lot easier to start.

See the difference!

FAQ Auto-Darkening Filters

One of the most common eye injuries from UV/IR radiation are retinal burns and flash burns to the cornea. We understand that eye protection is a critical issue for all welders and here are our replies to a few of the most frequent questions we hear about our auto-darkening filters

  • Are the 3M™ Speedglas™ Auto-Darkening Filters as safe as a passive filter?
    Yes, Speedglas auto-darkening welding filters provide constant protection (shade 13 equivalent) from ultraviolet and infrared (UV/IR) radiation regardless of whether the filter is in the light or dark state or whether the auto-darkening function is operational. They’re potentially safer than passive filters as you can keep the helmet in the down position during the whole welding process as the filter auto-switch from light to dark, and back again, to help increase productivity while you weld. Plus, your hands are not preoccupied with constant helmet adjustment.
  • No more than traditional filters. All Speedglas welding filters have inner and outer (replaceable) protection plates that are easy to replace anytime they becomes deeply pitted, scratched or too dirty to clean with a soft cloth. The welding filter is recessed into the helmet and therefor well protected. A Speedglas welding helmet is very much as robust as a passive welding helmet.
  • To repeat: with Speedglas auto-darkening filters you’re always protected from hazardous UV/IR radiation. Speedglas auto-darkening filters provide constant protection (shade 13 equivalent) from ultraviolet and infrared (UV/IR) radiation regardless of whether the filter is in the light or dark state or whether the auto-darkening function is operational.
  • No. The filter switches too quickly for the eye to see a flash (0.1 ms at room temperature). The transition from no arc to arc occurs without a perceptible flash.
  • The Speedglas auto-darkening filters consistently auto-switch from light to dark, and back again. Both of your hands are free and the electrode can be precisely positioned, to helps increase productivity while you weld. An auto-darkening welding helmet also helps reduce neck-strain from “helmet nodding”, while greatly increasing the accuracy of electrode placement. This, in turn reduces the need for grinding and rework. The filters’ constant, clear views make even extremely awkward welds a lot easier.
  • If profitability is defined in terms of protection, one day is enough. But while “protection” sometimes can be difficult to measure, efficiency and weld quality are much easier to gauge. Studies show that you can increase efficiency substantially when using Speedglas auto-darkening filters. Not only can you work faster when you can always see, but you move more efficiently, placing electrodes more precisely. Most “bad weld starts” can be eliminated. Fewer bad welds mean less grinding and higher overall quality levels.pay off chart.

    For example:

    Productivity gains are, of course, dependent on the application. If you do lots of tack welds, you will have much greater productivity gains than a welder doing long seam welds. With that said, this example uses a conservative 15% gain in productivity. If cost for salary is $20 per hour, the welding helmet will pay for itself in approximately two months. In one year, the productivity gain could be up to $6000 in savings (also known as new profits). Note: Dollar amounts are approximate and may vary).

  • When it comes to welding equipment and safety products, the cliché – “you get what you pay for” – has never rung more truly. Welding equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should always be selected based on the individual’s circumstances, not the price. The optimal choice of welding filter depends, most of all, on type of welding process. But also on personal preferences that incorporate the complete welding helmet system, like size of viewing area, peripherial view, perceived weight and balance, need of additional protection etc.

    Before you select a model, ask yourself:

    • How will I use my welding helmet ?
    • Do I occasionally change welding process?
    • Am I using very low (<20) or very high (>300) amperes?

    This is a long-term investment: a variable welding filter offers more flexible features for new working conditions. Always contact your Safety Engineer, Safety Officer or other safety experts if there are any doubts regarding appropriate eye protection in your working situation.

Eye Hazards

Step 2

Continue to step 2 for a general outline of safety aspects to consider when selecting eye and face protections for your welding applications.