Are you a welder? Do you have better vision with your contact lenses in but worry that wearing contacts while welding is a safety hazard? If so, read on to learn everything you need to know about welding with your contacts in.
A Common Myth Debunked
Every now and then a horror story about welding and contact lenses makes its way around the Internet. In it, a man is blinded for life when the high heat from his welding rod fuses his contacts to his corneas. According to snopes.com, the story has only a small arc of truth. In reality, the man refused treatment for several hours after being burned, and he actually made a full recovery.
According to OSHA, in most circumstances, it's perfectly safe to weld while wearing contact lenses, as long as you wear the appropriate personal protective gear with them. The American Optometric Association also agrees that wearing contacts while welding does not boost the risk of cornea damage resulting from welding arc flashes.
Proper Eye Protection While Welding
Your contacts help you see better, but they don't protect your eyes from flying sparks and debris. Do wear your contact lenses, but also protect your eyes with Z87.1 approved safety approved goggles or safety glasses with side-shields. You can wear a welding helmet for farther protection against eye injury but not in place of safety goggles or glasses.
The Right Kind Of Contacts For The Job
Even with eye protection you still run the risk of a spark or bit of debris making its way to one of your eyes. If that debris gets stuck behind one of your contact lenses and you wear it for an extended period of time, you could scratch or damage your cornea.
As a welder, your best bet is to stock up on disposable soft contact lenses so you can change them out frequently and not have to worry about any lingering bit of metal dust sticking to them. You'll find disposable lenses that can be worn for 2 weeks, 1 week, or for a single day. If you order your lenses online, you can request a box of single-day lenses for times when your workload is heavy and a box of 1 week or 2 week-wear lenses for when your job is slow and there's no need to change your contacts daily. Get in touch with a company like Contacts For Good to learn more about ordering lenses online.
If You Do Sustain An Eye Injury While Wearing Contacts
No matter how safe you are, you still must be prepared for an emergency situation. If you get a foreign object in your eye while welding and you're wearing contact lenses, do not attempt to remove your contact lenses; doing so may further scratch your eye.
Seek medical help right away. If you can't get to the hospital quickly, or if you experience rapid swelling around your eyes, rinse your eyes out for 15 minutes with cool tap water. This will usually flush your contacts from your eyes, along with the debris. Flushing out the contacts and debris will prevent any further damage from occurring to your eye, but you'll still need to seek medical treatment to ease the discomfort of a scratched cornea.
Despite the popular myth, you do not increase your risk of eye injury by wearing contact lenses while you weld. In fact, if your contacts improve your vision, you're probably at less risk wearing them than you are not wearing them. Go ahead and get a better weld by wearing your contact lenses, just make sure to order disposable lenses, change them regularly, and know the proper emergency steps to take should you get a bit of welding debris in your eye while wearing them.
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