Welding masks protect the eyes from sparks, UV radiation, and other debris that may be created during the welding process. Since the solar eclipse also emits high UV radiation, some people have wondered if it would be safe to use a welding mask to look at the eclipse.
Welding masks provide enough coverage to eliminate the risk of sudden blindness if you were to look up at the eclipse without protection. However, they do not completely block out all UV radiation. If you are going to view the eclipse through a welding mask, make sure to do so for a very short period of time.this question is yes, it is safe to view the eclipse with a welding mask.
Should I Use a Welding Helmet to View a Solar Eclipse?
There is no doubt that welding helmets provide adequate protection from UV radiation and other debris that might be harmful to your eyes. You can use a welding helmet to view the solar eclipse.
However, If you are using a welding helmet that is not in good condition, has scratches on the lens, or does not fit well, it is not recommended that you use it to view the eclipse.
In these cases, it would be better to purchase either a new welding helmet for your future projects or buy special glasses meant for watching the eclipse.
What Are Correct Shade Levels for Solar Eclipse Viewing?
Welders need to be very careful when choosing the shade level for their welding helmets when viewing a solar eclipse. The correct shade level will protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation, but too much protection can make it difficult to see the eclipse.
Welding helmets are typically available with shade levels ranging from 3 to 13. The higher the number, the more protection the helmet will offer.
The appropriate shade level for viewing a solar eclipse will vary depending on the type of eclipse you are viewing. Hence, for a total solar eclipse, you will need to use a filter with a Shade 12 or higher rating as suggested by NASA.
Different Welding Mask types
There are two main types of welding masks: auto-darkening and passive. I highly recommend Auto-darkening welding masks, which are way more popular than passive masks and offer substantially more protection for your eyes.
Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
Auto-Darkening welding helmets automatically adjust the shade level of the lens filter depending on the intensity of light that is being emitted. This prevents the welder from having to change the filter level manually.
Additionally, they are also equipped with a sensor that detects the presence of UV radiation. If the sensor detects high levels of UV radiation, it will automatically adjust the shade level to offer more protection to the eyes.
My top three suggestions are as follows:
Passive Welding Helmet
A passive welding helmet is a type of welding mask that does not have an auto-darkening lens filter. It relies on the welder to manually adjust the shade level of the lens filter depending on the intensity of light that is being emitted.
Passive welding masks are also equipped with a sensor that detects the presence of UV radiation. However, unlike auto-darkening, you have to adjust the filter manually with a passive welding helmet.
What to Avoid when Watching Solar Eclipse?
When choosing a welding helmet for watching a solar eclipse, there are a few things you should avoid:
- Welding helmet in poor Condition – Do not use a welding helmet that is not in good condition. The filters on welding helmets degrade over time, and if the filter on your welding helmet is not in good condition, you may be exposing yourself to harmful levels of UV radiation.
- Use correct shade – be sure to choose the correct shade level for the eclipse you are viewing. If you select a shade level that is too dark, you may not be able to see anything. If you do not know which shade your welding helmet is, you should avoid using it to view the solar eclipse.
- Do not remove it while watching – Finally, avoid removing your welding helmet while watching the eclipse because you will be exposing yourself to harmful levels of sunlight.
What Can Happen if I Use Incorrect Eye Protection When Watching Solar Eclipse?
The most common consequence of not using the proper eye protection is solar retinopathy. Solar retinopathy is a condition that occurs when the retina is damaged by UV radiation. Symptoms of solar retinopathy include:
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Distorted vision
Additional symptoms of exposing your eyes to UV light may result in irritability, itchy or watery eyes, and temporary yellow bumps in the eyes besides the lens.
NOTE: If you experience any of these symptoms after viewing a solar eclipse, you should seek medical help immediately. Do not wait to see if the symptoms go away, as they may not and could potentially lead to permanent vision loss.
Yes, welding helmets block UV radiation, but only up to a certain point. The appropriate shade level for viewing a solar eclipse will vary depending on the type of eclipse you are viewing and the shading filter your welding helmet is having.
It is not safe to look at the sun or solar eclipse with your bare eyes, no matter what device you are using. Serious eye damage can occur if you do not use the proper eye protection.
There are a number of devices that you can use to view a solar eclipse, such as welding masks, eclipse glasses, and pinhole projectors. Be sure to choose the device that is appropriate for your viewing location and the level of eclipse you are seeing.
Just because you’re wearing a welding helmet doesn’t mean it’s safe to stare directly at the sun. Welder’s helmets are designed to protect your eyes from bright flashes and debris, but they are not designed to be used for this purpose.
Sunglasses will not protect your eyes from the harmful UV radiation emitted by the sun during a solar eclipse. You will need to use special filters for that matter in order to safely view it.
To use an auto-darkening or passive welding mask to view a solar eclipse, place the welding mask on your head and ensure that the seal is tight against your face. Turn on the welding helmet by depressing the switch on the side of the helmet.
You need to adjust darkness manually for the passive helmet while auto-darkening will adjust itself according to the intensity of light.