Can you look at the sun or eclipse with a welding helmet?

Is it a myth that the sun can damage your vision?

All our childhood we have heard our elders telling us to never stare at the sun directly with a naked eye or wear sunglasses. We used to find that funny until we faced some issues in our vision. Sun can make you blind if you keep staring at it, for this reason special sun hats and sunglasses are designed.

What is a solar eclipse and the science behind it?

According to NASA when a moon orbits Earth, it moves between the sun and the Earth. If this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching the Earth. This causes the eclipse of the sun also known as a solar eclipse. 

All the rays of the sun are blocked and a person is tempted to see it with a naked eye. It is severely dangerous and can blind you completely. Children are forbidden to go out during a solar eclipse because till now doctors have found no treatment for the damaged eye caused by a solar eclipse.

What keeps you safe from the sun and the solar eclipse?

There are different kinds of safety products available in the market. Sunglasses and sun hats are used to protect from harsh sun rays but NASA has declared that nothing can keep you safe from a solar eclipse except a welding helmet. 

If you want to directly look at the sun or the solar eclipse it is recommended that you use a welding helmet with a level 12 shade or higher. Level 13 is better and level 14 is a bit dark to view.

How Welding Helmets Protect Your Eyes from the Sun?

A welding helmet is better protection than any protection gear. A welding helmet fully protects you from the sun rays or the eclipse as it provides full coverage. A welding helmet is available in several shades. Mostly the darkest shade should be used to protect the eyes against any damage.

A welding helmet is designed in a way that it is covered with a window at the front. The windows are tinted. They protect the UV or infrared lights from entering into your eyes. Each welding helmet is designed to stop a specific UV light or infrared rays coming from the sun or eclipse.

A welding helmet can’t filter out all the UV rays and infrared light. They can minimize the chances of damaging your eyes but they can not eliminate. Under minimal circumstances, you can look at the solar eclipse with welding helmet protection better than any sunglasses.

Types of welding helmets

Many companies are producing welding helmets but welding helmets don’t have the shade option written on top of it so buying a welding helmet can get a little tricky.

There are two kinds of welding helmets. One protects you from the sun and the other one is used for welding purposes. It is important to choose the right one. If you are unsure and don’t know about buying a perfect welding helmet then do your research work first instead of using the wrong welding helmet and damaging your eyes forever.

Here is a little guide for the top welding helmets for welding work and the top welding helmets for sun protection.

Welding helmets for welding work:

  1. Miller Electric: This welding helmet is available in the option of shade 12. It’s good for welding purpose but will not protect your eyes against sun or eclipse.
  2. Lincoln welding helmet: This welding helmet only offers an option of shade 11 which is quite below the recommended shade so this one is not suitable at all for sun protection.
  3. Yeswelder Truecolor: This welding helmet again offers an option of shade 11 which is very unsafe for use in the sun. Can only be used for welding purpose.

Welding helmets to be used against sun rays

  1. Jackson safety BH3 W70: This offers a shade option of 13. It’s light in weight and durable to use.
  2. Lincoln electric Viking 3350: This welding helmet provides an option of shade 14. Provides great protection against the sun and is very comfortable to use.
  3. Antra AH6-260-0000: A cheaper and lightweight option that grants good protection against harsh sun rays. This also offers wide area coverage.

How many kinds of ultraviolet rays are present during solar eclipse?

There are three kinds of ultraviolet rays that can badly affect your eyeballs:

  1. UVA: This is known as ultraviolet A. These rays are very weak but have a very bad impact on your eyes. These rays are more damaging than you can think. They can cause certain problems which can’t be treated.
  2. UVB: This is known as ultraviolet B. These rays are a bit stronger than UVA but they also damage your eyes as well as your skin badly.
  3. UVC: This is known as ultraviolet C but most of these rays are not so harmful so they are stopped by the ozone layer.

Why are solar eclipse glasses better than normal sunglasses and a welding helmet?

NASA has not approved the use of sunglass or welding helmet for a longer period of staring at a sun let alone a solar eclipse. For this reason, scientists have come up with a very special product which is are solar eclipse sunglasses.

Though sunglasses and welding helmet can shield your eyes against the light you can see. These things can also protect your eyes against the electromagnetic spectrum as well as UVA and UVB rays. The thing about sunglasses and welding helmet is that they can only protect your eyes 10-20 per cent from the UVA and UVB rays. 

Here comes the use of specially designed solar eclipse glasses. They look like any regular sunglasses but they are far safer. They protect your eyes 100,000 more as they are way darker than a welding helmet.

The solar eclipse sunglasses are made up of a special black polymer that consists of resin and carbon particles. This is the best material to block all damaging rays.

What happens when you directly stare at the sun for longer period?

The two major parts of your eyes are your eyeballs and the cornea. The cornea is the most sensitive part of your eye. If they are most exposed to the sun rays or a solar eclipse, cracks start to form in them which can make them completely useless. No treatment has been found till now.

A retina is again a very important part of your eye. Retina carries very sensitive tissues. If you stare at the sun for a longer time, these tissues damage. The more the tissues damage, the more blurred vision you’ll have.

List of conditions occurred by sun damage to your eyes

  1. Cataracts: This is the condition in which proteins break down from your eye’s tissues causing blurred vision.
  2. Pinguecla: This is the condition in which yellow bumps are created on the outer lens of the eye. This condition causes severe irritation in your eyes. Thankfully this can get fixed with treatment.
  3. Burning eyes: Your eyes may start to feel itchy and start burning. They might get watery and you’ll be unable to open your eyes.
  4. Macular degeneration: This is the condition in which the central portion of your retina becomes blind. This condition is irreversible and has no treatment as yet.
  5. Photokeratitis: This is the condition in which the cells of the cornea may start to burn and the cornea starts to crack forming blisters. A very scary condition in which you completely get blind.
  6. Sensitivity: Most commonly when you look at the sun for a longer time you develop sensitivity for starting at any bright object anywhere.

Safety measure you should take before using a welding helmet

  1. Always confirm the shade you are using in a welding helmet. Anything below 13 should not be used for looking at the sun directly.
  2. Make sure to check the solar filter before using the welding helmet.
  3. Make sure the glass cover is not scratched or cracked.
  4. You should always wear your normal glasses underneath the welding helmet.
  5. Stand straight without moving while you are staring at the sun.
  6. Don’t stare for a longer time.
  7. Never use a telescope to stare at the sun or the solar eclipse even with a welding helmet on. It will completely turn you blind.
  8. Never even by mistake take off your welding helmet while looking at the sun or the eclipse.

Final Verdict:

In general, NASA does not approve of the use of a welding helmet for directly staring at the sun or the eclipse but they do recommend the use of solar eclipse sunglasses. Sometimes the damage caused to your eye won’t be visible in an instant. It will only be visible after the age of 50. Be smart and protect yourself against all these rays.