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Does anyone have any thoughts or wisdom on the wearing of contact lenses and welding. I have a kid who wants to learn and wears contacts. What can I tell him. I thought I heard something in the past about NOT wearing them. Anyone?

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Hello Lawrence,

I will give it a go if you don't mind. Besides intense light and heat, a welding arc emits ultraviolet rays. This UV light can in theory degrade the contact lenses, because plastics are not always immune to UV. They may show discolorization and brittle behavior in time. However, you will need a very high doses of UV in order to achieve the contacts to degrade to such an extent. The eyes (cornea and retina) will be permanently damaged by that time already.

There are some stories that the contact lenses can be “welded” to your eyes as soon as you look into a weld pool. First of all, never look into a weld pool of course. Secondly, this is nonsense. Again, if it would be theoretically possible to “weld” contacts to your eyes, you will be blind already by the energy required to do this (, if at all possible).

It is okay for people wearing contacts to use them during welding, just make sure that you wear proper protection and welding hood at all times.
Thank you for your valuble information Sywert
That doesn't sound like a good idea to me. There is a small chance of free-floating irritants being trapped between the contacts and the eyes. That's why contacts aren't allowed to be used in a laboratory. You should tell your pupil that he can't be too safe when it comes to his eyes.
I work everyday with them no problems here but i always wear saftey glasses
I'll throw out my $.02 worth on this. First of all your eyes are probably the most important things to protect on your body. I have heard many "stories" about wearing contacts while welding and there were some dandies. Again just stories. As far as catching the occasional stray arc I wouldn't worry to much about that. Your eyes would be cooked well before the lenses melt. I think wveryone has gotten something in their eye at one time or another while welding or grinding and particals could become trapped behind the lens and scrath the eye so proper eyewear is neccessary even without contacts. I would encourage them to learn.
I weld with contacts and have had zero issues.
Think about it. If it is bad enough to damage the contact lens, then it would destroy an eye without a contact on it. The welding hood protcts your eyes, with or without contact lens'. I have had contacts for 19 years and have done everything that you can do with them on and never had any issues.
Found the following on CCOHS...

Can you wear contact lenses when welding?

Dust particles or chemicals that can irritate the eyes may be present in many welding areas. Wearing contact lenses may not be advisable in such workplaces.

Reports of contact lenses being "welded" to the cornea (or lens of the eye) as a result of exposure to an arc flash have been proven to be incorrect. It is impossible for contact lenses to become "welded" to the cornea.

All workers in proximity to welding procedures must wear appropriate eye protection whether they are using contact lenses or not.
Lawrence-

I agree with Jeremys Welding; it has a lot to do with how the lenses are cleaned; if they are the type that you can wear all the time or if they need to be removed at night. I wear contacts myself and the only problem I have had is when PAC or SMAW for a long period of time the soot dries them out, sometimes to the point where they are fairly difficult to remove; but with re-wetting drops during the day and a thorough cleaning at night I have had no problems.
Thanks for your input Joel!
I have been welding for 43 years and I never have had an eye flash. Wear your hood and learn what is the correct lens number for the welding process you are doing, and you will never have eye problems from welding. If you are tack welding use a hand held hood. There is no problem wearing contact lens while welding that is an old tale, but wear saftey glasses as well..

I would tell him to get glasses. I know they aren't comfortable but its safer.

Have him go to his eye doctor & purchase a good set of prescription safety glass's & put his contacts back in after he leaves the work area. As a welder foreman if I catch you with contacts on my firing line or one of my projects you have 3 choices. Either get prescription safety glass's, use cheaters in your hood in addition to ansi approved safety glasses or pack your bags! Safety comes first at all times!!! I've had a piece of slag pop into my safety glass's & into my left eye while underneath the pipe on a firing line with me also wearing my welding hood (of course)in addition to said ANSI approved safety eyewear. When I went see the medic & he picked out what he could by gently gragging a q-tip across my eyeball. Whenever he would hit the area, my eyeball would move.The following day I went in to my eye doctor & had to have the remainder & a "rust ring" removed by him by "drilling" it out & cleaning the surrounding affected area up. This happens because your eyes are the fastest healing parts of your body & a film will immediately begin to grow to protect the damged eye. So, the doctor has to "drill" or clean all that mess in & off of your eyeball so it will heal back correctly. Everything was fine & dandy I was cracking jokes until a bit later when the ponacane wore off! You'd swear someone was holding a lighter to my eyeball. Now, let's throw in the "what if". "If" I would have been wearing contacts it would've or could've possiably seared the contact to my eye complicating matters even more. Your only born with 2 eyes & you need to do everything possiable to protect them. Also a lot of people don't know this but if one eye gets infected & is not treated in time, the infection migrates to the other eye as well & you could possiably lose eyesight in both eyes as a extra bonus!!!! Safety first my brothers! ALWAYS wear 2 forms of eye protection while performing hot work operations! Looking cute, cool, fashionable, etc. can be done later on in a environment with less eye injury hazards. You can go do whatever once you punch out & go home. Y'all all have y'all selves a good day!

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