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  • Strange welding helmet problem

    So lately, I was having strange eye problems... unbearable headaches above my eyes and in my eyeballs every morning, a rough and dry feeling when I blinked and pain if I looked at any bright light. It was strongly correlated with days and times when I was welding, almost like I had been welding without a helmet, but that's something I absolutely won't do, plus I wear safety glasses, so I didn't know what to make of it. No reflective objects behind me, either. Finally in desperation I got a new welding helmet (a Weldmark auto-darkening unit) and my eyes started improving within a matter of hours.

    I am really troubled by this. Is there any likelihood that I had a defective lens? do fixed-shade lenses wear out after a while? I used this one for months without a problem, and then suddenly, my eyes were killing me. Plus now I have great anxiety trusting any welding helmet.

    Has anyone encountered something like this before? Among other emotions, I am utterly baffled.

    Stay safe!!

  • #2
    It was fixed shade, not auto-darkening? What shade? I have a fixed shade (#10) hood in the shop that my dad used all day every day from the 1970s til he retired in the 90s, and it still works fine. Lots of clear front cover glass replacements, but the same filter glass. Are you sure you were getting the hood down soon enough and not getting just a bit of a flash on every start? If not, you would probably have noticed. That is really baffling to me, too....never heard of a lens wearing out. Had you changed shops or shop conditions? New ceilings?

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    • #3
      It was the darkest shade the store had, I believe #12 IIRC. Almost too dark to see a stick welding arc properly and dark enough to make some super-crooked MIG welds, I was striking with the hood down, definitely not the most precise but also safer. After I got the auto-darkening helmet it snowed, and before that it was all dead vegetation from last year. Mostly, I have a thicket of leafless bushes behind me, or a long empty downhill grade.

      I'm glad the problem is solved, for now, but I'm haunted by a fear that it will come back if I don't correctly identify and fix it.

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      • #4
        Wow-#12--I'd be lucky to get the weld on the work instead of the table with my old eyes! :-)
        Certainly sounds like there is nothing to reflect the light back to you. And the problem went away with a new hood. You're not burning 1/4" rod, I assume.....But even if you were, you'd still be compliant with OSHA "recommended", which is darker than OSHA "minimum."

        https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OS...ng-welding.pdf

        No cracks or light leaks in the old helmet? Try a bright light inside it in a darkened area and see if you can see any "leaks" from the outside--and flex it around a bit. I don't know if its possible for UV to leak through a little crack and not see the visible light also. Doesn't make sense to me that it could--the difference in wavelength is infinitesimal. The fact that I even thought of that makes me feel like I might be one of those people who think too much!

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        • #5
          A number #12 would give an average fellow headaches just trying to see the weld zone...........Like eye strain. When did you switch to a #12?

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          • #6
            Good thought, Tarry!

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            • #7
              Well Lewis, what the heck gives? I got a head ache just thinking about looking thru a #12, and that was your regular? Wow. You have too post a picture of the old glory helmet and lens.
              Oh man...you have to show us!

              I'm kind of thinking however...
              "
              unbearable headaches above my eyes and in my eyeballs every morning, a rough and dry feeling when I blinked and pain if I looked at any bright light.
              "
              How long did you suffer this out? Sounds like you endured some suffering before 2+2 made 4?

              What made you rule out stroke, aneurism or tumor? Lol...That said, I'm glad all is better and your on the mend.
              I'm curious what you have the new helmet dialed into for a setting?

              Your lens shade setting... too dark, you can't see squat, you hover in close while straining to see, breathing more smoke and fume, and it's hard to see so you stare and focus straining your eyes. If you noticed dots when you were done and they were dark in color, lens too dark.

              Being fearful of choosing too light a shade is what's scared into us. I'm not clear on the lens you used or the helmet style but I'd still have question a picture could answer. #10... 99% of lenses are #10's. The other 2% is made up of 9's and 11's.
              Hey, but if you see light colored dots...the lens is to light a shade. So they say?
              I guess the trick is see no dots?

              Who ever sold you on a #12 ? Well... he was clearing inventory of old stock.
              Choose a shade setting that allows you to see clearly, at a comfortable distance allowing smoke and fume too rise away, and still allowing you too see what's going on.

              "
              Has anyone encountered something like this before?"

              Yes, but it involved a bottle of whisky, a mig machine and some cutting goggles. For the record, the head ache, troubles with light, and the throbbing eye balls I blame on the whisky. The taunt red skin on my face, that was the welding. I'm pretty sure I saw things quite clearly however.
              Last edited by Noel; 02-16-2019, 11:39 PM.

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              • #8
                I lived with this for about a week waiting to see if it was just dust in my eyes, dehydration or temporary eyestrain or something. When it became clear that it was a serious, recurring problem I kicked into action. As for strokes, aneurisms, and tumors, I didn't see how those would be worse when I welded but not when I did other work, so I tried the welding helmet first.

                How did I choose a #12? I looked up the OSHA chart (someone linked a copy above) and saw that for GMAW in the 160-250 amp range a shade 12 hood is "recommended". Since I had a 180 amp machine at the time, I figured I should be cautious and hunted down a shade 12 lens (wasn't easy either)

                Right now, I like the suggestion posed by tarry99 and Noel that I was getting eye strain trying to see the weld zone. Before I got my auto-darkening helmet a few days ago, I always did wonder how the pros made such nice, beautiful, straight welds, how they magically knew where the end of their 14" electrode was to avoid sticking it, and how they and avoided getting arc strikes all over their projects all without being able to see what they were doing

                So yeah, my ignorance of welding matters really shows here, and all the folks who actually know what they are doing will probably get a good laugh out of this. However, I still think that too much safety beats too little.
                Last edited by Lewis Hein; 02-17-2019, 06:31 AM.

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                • #9
                  I don't think I've ever used a 12 or even turned my auto shields that high. What works well for me is when I'm doing a lot of welding, and I'm generally on the lower end of the spectrum, like around 8 or 9 most of the time, I throw on a pair of UV sun glasses under the hood with me. Especially if I'm doing a lot of welding or a long weld. Helps keep the big blue dot out of my vision at least.

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                  • #10
                    " However, I still think that too much safety beats too little.
                    "

                    I say the same about education.

                    Backing up a bit, let's clear up some confusion. The welding lens absorbs infra red and ultraviolet radiation. What it block as the shade darkens is visible bright light.

                    https://www.millerwelds.com/resource...helmet-for-you

                    "
                    First, any helmet you choose should meet ANSI Z87.1 - 2003 (also referred to as ANSI Z87+) standards, which ensure that helmets and lenses have passed independent testing to show they can survive high velocity impact from flying objects, provide 100% ultraviolet and infrared filtering regardless of shade setting and meet advertised switching speeds and darkness shades in temperatures as low as 23° F and high as 131° F. Low temperatures have been known to cause delays in LCD switching times."

                    Depending on the process (SMAW, GMAW, FCAW, GTAW), material (Carbon Steels, Stainless Steel, Aluminum), current (Amps/voltage and arc lengths), more or less visible light as well intensity of such light from the type of arc created is noticed. The choice then is of personal comfort when seeing visible bright light, as well ability to focus on seeing enough to deposit sound weld metal.

                    I hope this clears up any remaining confusion on the topic of choosing a shade of lens Lewis? And why when you see a third world welder with a lens taped into a chunk of card board face shield he doesn't go blind from the effort. As long as there is a lens, it's doing what it's intended to do.

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                    • #11
                      So Lewis..........Have you been to an Optometrist or someone in that field yet?

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                      • #12
                        I see no mention of the brand in the OP. Hard to help with ideas that may very well be related to the lens.

                        Even with a standard lens, you should always strike with the hood down. Sounds like you thought we don't normally do that. You just get good at remembering where to strike and instantly adjusting it afterward.

                        Good on you for wearing your safety glasses underneath. Even clear glasses, and the clear protective shield in front of your shaded hood lens are designed to stop the UV. The shade number is just for the visible light spectrum. Get the appropriate shade for the brightness of the welding process, not just the darkest one.

                        Could be a simple matter of eye fatigue (maybe from the dark shade). It sounds like the UV should be blocked well. Add some bright task lighting to your workspace.

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                        • #13
                          "always did wonder how the pros made such nice, beautiful, straight welds, how they magically knew where the end of their 14" electrode was to avoid sticking it, and how they and avoided getting arc strikes all over their projects all without being able to see what they were doing"

                          The pro's do it with practice.
                          Practicing how to set the current for the size of rod. How to hold and position the electrode in the holder. Adjusting the helmet knobs for tension/slack so a nod of the head drops the helmet to the area being viewed, and how to strike an arc rather then spear a fish. How to maintain an arc's length , reason to vary it and consistently maintain it while lowering it as the electrode is consumed. And how to constantly adjust the rod angle as the electrode is consumed to keep the weld profile consistent.

                          The problem is Lewis, no one wants to practice. They all want to do...they want doing to be easy, quick fast and simple.
                          Most who end up professional welders get there because they practice. The good ones learn quickly, the poor ones blame the rod.
                          For the record, even Doctors kill a few and they practice on live ones.

                          Dentists are another group of practisers. At least this advice you've been give has been given freely.



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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Noel View Post
                            [LEFT][COLOR=#252C2F][FONT=Helvetica][SIZE=13px]
                            The pro's do it with practice...
                            All of that is important but has nothing to do with laying a straight weld or being able to see the weld puddle. As clarification, due to the shade of my helmet I assumed that the pros weld basically blind, without being able to see the joint or the weld puddle. I made this statement as an illustration of how much too dark my shade was. I know there are times when people have to weld blind, but many of us don't.

                            Although practice is important, in this case none of my problems had anything whatever to do with practice.
                            Last edited by Lewis Hein; 02-17-2019, 09:43 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Noel View Post
                              [
                              I hope this clears up any remaining confusion on the topic of choosing a shade of lens Lewis? And why when you see a third world welder with a lens taped into a chunk of card board face shield he doesn't go blind from the effort. As long as there is a lens, it's doing what it's intended to do. [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/LEFT]
                              You have to remember, I bought the lens before I knew anything at all about welding, and had to just make a guess, so I guessed on the safe side. I am aware that all shades are supposed to filter out 100% of UV and IR, but for all I knew AWS and OSHA had a good reason for recommending the things they do.

                              And the purpose of this thread was never to talk about shades, rather to see if I had a safety issue I was unaware of.

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