View Full Version : What Is A "Flash" ?
04-01-2007, 02:45 AM
Years ago I got a welding 'flash'. And it hurt. A lot. Since then I've always been extra careful that no one - especially children - can get a flash from my welder when I do some welding. (which isn't often).
But during that time I've managed to give myself a few 'flashes' here and there, some of them pretty bad. I remember one time I seemed to be looking into the heart of the arc with my naked eyes from about 6 inches for the longest time before my reflexes kicked in and I looked away, closed my eyes.
And the funny thing is: I've never been hurt since. I just flashed myself about twice today. No affects yet and I'm pretty sure there's not going to be.
So it has got me wondering. Why doesnt' it hurt me again? Have I already burned something out of my eyes? Why doesn't my sight seem to have suffered at all?
And I flash myself so often because I'm a mug welder, a raw beginner, a stumbling, fumbling beginner and I get the rod stuck and flash myself when I'm pulling it off and make an accidental arc and I strike arcs when I'm supposed to be simply looking at the job and..... so on...
And being such a mug beginner it would help me no end if I could employ a much lighter shade of black lens. It is a big problem with me not being able to see the job when I'm welding. I need a nice big glowing puddle or the light from the arc to see where I'm at.
If I could use lighter and lighter filters it would help me. I didn't think of it before but I have now.
I've heard of welders stuck in the bush with a job to do - guys on trucks and plant machinery in the outback - and no welding hat, no filters. They put their hand in front of their eyes and peer through the cracks between the fingers. Between the gloved fingers I'd guess they're talking about else they'd get bad sunburn at least I suppose. Actually such guys have already got a pretty severe case of suntan......
So the whole thing interests me. Just why does the flash hurt? And then why does it not hurt? Can lighter filters be employed?
04-01-2007, 03:28 AM
Flash hurts cause you are burning your cornea. Heck if I know why it doesnt hurt anymore. Wear a helmet/hood.
Go spend some $ and get an automatic hood if you MUST have good view of your arc. Sorry, but if you are planning to use a lesser grade lense please do not expect my tax dollars to help pay for your future disability cheques.
People not taking care of thier eyes are morons (not you per se, but the quacks looking through thier fingers).
04-01-2007, 04:55 AM
I agree with DirtyLittleSecret
I just flashed myself about twice today. No affects yet and I'm pretty sure there's not going to be.
what a load of crap I've been welding close to 30 yrs and flashes still hurt my eyes
04-01-2007, 07:34 AM
Wear safety glasses under your helmet and you will not suffer from arc flash. Regular clear safety glasses with side shields is all you need. Many welding operations require employees to wear flash goggles or safety glasses at all times. Time loss injuries from flash disappear.
04-01-2007, 07:56 AM
Their are more than one reason why your eyes hurt after a flash.
I have worked with some hard core and crazy welders and seen things that I still find hard to believe but after trying some find they do work. Flash's can and will burn your cornea but not always. A flash can also over working the mussels in your eyes. It depends on the situation.The thing that I was taught was after a flash do one of two things immediately. Either strike the arc again and get welding or open the hood and look at a lighted area, then slowly look away slowing down the reaction time of the mussels in you eyes.. :nono: The worst thing you can do after a flash is close your eyes and keep them that way for very long. The mussels in your eyes are going from extreme light to extreme dark and the mussels get strained causing your eyes to hurt allot, and this feels the most natural thing to do.
The reason you most likely why your eyes don't hurt is that the amount of like wasn't enough to burn your cornea and the change in brightness wasn't enough to hurt the mussels in your eyes. I have had several flashes over the years and my eyes only hurt once and that was do to two of use welding one something and it was dark out side. Very limited lighting. Every time the other guy started welding, even when I wasn't looking at the arc area my eyes still reacted to the bright light than tried to back to the dark light.
As to what filters to use, Its your call. Some people like different filters. The light you are working in will also effect which filter you might prefer.
I have seen welders outside on a sunny day look directly at someone welding and then look up towards the sun, than slowly look down towards the ground. Never blinked once until they were looking back down, I asked is he was crazy. He said with proper safety glasses ( and always wear safety glasses while welding ) to block the UV and then slowly look towards the weld then away in such away that you that you are not working the mussels in your eye to hard you can get away with it. Notice I didn't say safely. The guy was 58 years old and been welding his whole life. He has prefect vision and doesn't wear glasses. I have seen allot of others do this as well to some degree. basically if they are looking at something when an arc is struck, they just control the eye mussel reaction rather then hurting their eyes.
I know by writing the above that some are going to either think I am crazy or the people I work around are, but if you think about ( and I have done some checking on this ) that it is true and we aLL have had flashes with no toubles.
THIS ISN'T TO SAY THAT ITS OK, ALL PRECAUTION SHOULD BE MADE TO AVOID FLASHES AND SAFETY SHOULD ALWAYS BE A FIRST PRIORITY. ALWAYS WEAR THE PROPER SAFETY EQUIPMENT FOR THE JOB YOU ARE DOING. ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GLASSES WHILE WELDING, EVEN UNDER THE HOOD. :nono:
04-01-2007, 08:01 AM
I had an employee that mig welded with out a helmit. I was always after him to use a helmit or he would be canned.
04-01-2007, 10:15 AM
I've stated this in the past and I'm doing it again..
Stare at a flourecent light for a minute or so..
No eye "sand" at night..
I don't know how it works but it does..:cool:
04-01-2007, 10:23 AM
Yeah, If you do happen to see "spot" don't close your eyes. I'm not brave enough to flash myself again, but after the first one, I look outside or up at the lights for a bit, then look around and all will be ok. They also give us safety glasses with a slight tint to them with a very high UV and UA protection. And don't get caught without them. Just be safe, we want everyone to go home without help ya know.
04-01-2007, 10:56 AM
Ahh Flash burn, havn't had that for ohh a couple days now! Not a great feeling.
Saying that it doesn't effect you is BS. You may not wake up screaming like I do from it, but someday you will not have your vision.
My father can't see at night because of all the arc welding he did in his past with poor eye protection. After thirty years of fabrication work it catches up to you.
04-01-2007, 05:52 PM
Well it's tomorrow now and there's been affects from yesterday's couple of flashes.
Of course, I don't know if I'm going to go blind in my old age but I'll soon find out because I'm pretty near it now.
Nowadays, including yesterday, I do always wear safety glasses behind my helmet. In fact my eyes deteriorated some ten years ago maybe and I have to wear glasses for reading. I just use those cheap 'readers' you can get here in a supermarket or pharmacy. Well, I wear them behind the safety glasses, too, to help me clearly see what's going on with the weld.
I doubt they deteriorated from welding - but it is possible, I guess. I'm just not sure of when the eye problems began and I've always put them down to computers and staring at computer screens. Back in '87 I went back to school for a few years and got qualifications in computing. Then and afterwards for the next ten years I spent untold time staring at computer screens.
If something jogs my memory sometime it might be possible to work it out because I only ever did one lot of welding before nowadays and that was for a short period back in about '95 maybe.
So I have two pair of glasses on. Usually. But not always. And back when I got that painful flash I wasn't even doing the welding. And back when I was doing the welding and got flashes (that didn't hurt - only ever that first one hurt) I wasn't wearing glasses or safety glasses.
But I was welding in the bright tropical sunshine in the northern territory. All this talk of the muscles of the eye is interesting. I've never heard that suggestion before. It would make sense if you were in bright light all the time - such as welding in the open on a very sunny day - that a flash wouldn't affect your eyes as much as if the pupil were fully open as it would be in the dark.
Similarly the welder himself staring into the pool would have his pupil contracted and be less likely to suffer from radical change when he saw the arc without his protective lens.
But bystanders, especially walking around in a gloomy factory, may have their pupil fully expanded and get an immense shock upon seeing an arc.
But what's the sand? I had it that painful time, never since. What is it?
And what's 'burning the cornea' ? A burned cornea can't recover, surely, can it? And why doesn't it always happen? The cornea is that outside part isn't it?
And what about UV rays? I had always kinda thought the pain from the flash was due to the particular wavelengths of light within the arc. Particularly UV, the wavelength that causes sunburn. Sunburned skin from arcs. Sunburned eyes. And I believed it was, in particular, the interior of the eye, where the rods and cones are.
Now I'm no longer certain about anythng. It's all a big mystery now. It seems many people have shared my experience. And it seems there's many people like Patriot Experience who seems to flash himself frequently and it hurts him so much he wakes up screaming from it!!
This is amazing to my mind. Perhaps I should go to some sort of Doctor's forum and see what I can find there.
Thanks for all the replies.
04-01-2007, 06:01 PM
Seriously, are you joking with us?
You really need to go see a good optometrist to ask a bunch of questions (and get your eyes checked). UV light in general is extremely hazardous. While corneas can heal from certain damage quite quickly they can also develop masses of scar tissue that further generate rogue cell structures (ie: greater chances of glaucoma/cataracts/etc).
OSHA has mandates on this sort of thing for a reason, and there is a TON of material out there. Eye protection IS NOT necessarily eye protection...
Please go see a doctor.
04-01-2007, 08:56 PM
I made a mistake in the first line of my last post and i can't find a way to edit it. I should have said '....NO affects....' from yesterday's flash.
Yes, I'm quite serious, Dirty, why would you think I'm not? The other people who responded with their own anecdotes were also quite serious, I think. We're all serious, practical people I think.
I'd like answers to my questions. I like to know things. I'll certainly ask the next medicine man I meet.... Meantime I ask in other places, such as here....
04-01-2007, 10:49 PM
Sorry I must've misinterpreted how you were stating things. Im just concerned that some member is gonna read this thread and think that they can go and look directly into the sun to alleviate severe damage caused by arc flash. Or, worse yet get to thinking that working with just a pair of sunglasses will suffice just because they are UVA/B protectant. Sorry for any confusion, but it kinda came off as though you were join' around.
I would still see an optometrist to ask for detailed answers and get a check-up for good measure.
Ive had snow-blindness a few times which is very similiar to flash burn. Think of the effects as the same as sun induced skin cancer, and then times it by about 1000+. For me, this is enough reason to stay under an automatic hood with safety glasses underneath. No hood = no arc.
On second thought give your state OSHA representative a call and ask to have some material forwarded to your email. I would be quite interested in the results as well!
All the best mate!:drinkup:
04-01-2007, 10:50 PM
The last (only) time I was flashed I drove myself to the er in the middle of the night, with blood red eye's and constant tears flowing from both. I felt like I poored sand in both eyes, hurt like a BIT$&. The doc. made me call someone to come pick me up, then and only then (after someone arrived to drive me home), he squeezed some salve in each of my eyes (what ever this was the hurting stopped quick) and patched them up. He told me "Do not take the patches off for 24 Hours", perscribed some valium for every 4-6 hours and I went home.
That was 12 years ago and I've been fine ever since (so far??).
04-02-2007, 01:04 AM
So what kind of safety glasses are you guy's talking about? Not the 3 dollar kind you see everywhere? How do safety glasses help with a flash?
04-02-2007, 01:24 AM
My safety glasses are the $3 kind. How they help I don't know. I'm taking the word of the man who made the posting that they do help.
I started wearing them under my helmet just to protect me when I lifted the helmet and was chipping away at the slag. I didn't do it thinking it would protect me from flash.
But it is true that I have never had any pain or other effects from a flash since that first one years ago. And yet I constantly flash myself. I did it again this morning.
So I'm willing to believe that those glasses help.
There's got to be a reason for all this and I'm just looking for it. I can't tell anyone what it is because I don't know it.
Actually I don't wear a helmet. I have a hand held visor or screen or whatever you call them. I much prefer it because I'm always looking to see where my weld is. On this thin stuff I'm trying to learn to weld and being butt welds there's no corner to stick the rod into and follow and there's no ground-out 'v' to see, feel, follow either. There's a less than hairline crack.
But that's by-the-by.
Why do so many of us not get hurt by flashes and so many others do?
04-02-2007, 08:56 AM
So what kind of safety glasses are you guy's talking about? Not the 3 dollar kind you see everywhere? How do safety glasses help with a flash?
The plastic clear lense filters out the damaging rays. I am not the expert so I cannot explain it fully. There are ultraviolet and infra red light fequencies that are emitted. They are outside the visible range but very damaging. The clear glasses don't stop everything damaging but reduce it sgnificantly.
04-02-2007, 09:17 AM
lotechman is right. Polycarbonate filters UV.
Get a half-dozen of these and keep them everywhere:
For IR filtering, I'm pretty sure the glasses must be tinted. Safety glasses that do both are also available.
04-02-2007, 11:00 AM
A flash is being awake at 3am with 2 tea bags propped on your eyeballs.
or atleast thats what i remember!
04-02-2007, 11:14 AM
Guess you could put it this way, back in the days before electronics sailors would have a patch over their dominant eye...due to damage from briefly looking at the sun with their sexton throughout the day. Your welder is brighter than that.
04-02-2007, 06:41 PM
Aaah.... that's why them there pirates have those patches.....
That's very interesting, Grumpy.... so what's happened? We don't use sextants any more but there's thousands (millions?) of us welding and you never see an eye patch?
Humans have evolved to have stronger eyes via childhoods full of t.v. watching?
04-02-2007, 07:26 PM
No eye patch anymore. High risk of cataracts though from UV eposure.
Brain rot from TV watching. ;)
"Other risk factors for cataract include: . . . The environment such as prolonged exposure to sunlight."
"What can I do to protect my vision?
Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight may help to delay cataract. . . ."
04-02-2007, 08:57 PM
Lincoln welding's web page may interest some: http://www.lincolnelectric.com/knowledge/articles/content/weldinglenses.asp
In particular this Q & A from it:
Q: What is the correct lens shade to use in my welding helmet to properly protect my eyes?
A: Many people mistakenly think that the lens shade number corresponds to the amount of protection that is provided to the eyes and hence the higher the number, the better the protection. But in reality, all well-constructed quality welding lenses, have a screen that filters out 100 percent of the harmful ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) wavelengths and provides protection to the eyes. The number just denotes the amount of darkness provided by that particular lens and should be used by operators as a guide to select the one that is most comfortable and yet provides good visibility for the particular application.
I find that very interesting and will be going out looking for a lighter shade lens directly.
p.s. A quick look around the web seemed to indicate the incidence of cataract was about the same in the USA and Australia. But Australia is generally a much sun-brighter place, I would have thought.
04-02-2007, 09:07 PM
Hmmmm I wear UV protected glasses every day..No choice :rolleyes:
Rarely do I flash myself withe the tig..
But under the Mustang with the crapbox mig?
Way too many times..
Maybe they had something to do along with the garage flourecents???
The "sand" is just that..
Close your after spraying sand in your eyes..
You'll get the picture in a hurry..:laugh:
04-03-2007, 05:02 AM
believe it or not milk all so help's ease the pain of a flash
milk in you eyes not your belly :p use it as a eye wash
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