Can You Watch Eclipse Through Welding Mask?

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Yes, you can watch the eclipse through the welding mask as long as they have a shade of 12 or higher. However, most of the welding mask has a lower shade and may not be suitable for watching the eclipse. Even at shade 12, you may find that the sun is still too bright, and in such a case, 13 or 14 is an idea. 

Are you looking forward to watching the eclipse and worried about how to take care of your eyes? Do you have the welding mask? If yes, then your issue is sorted. You only need to check that the helmet has a shade of 12 and more. If not, then you might have to buy proper glasses. After all, your safety is a priority. Here you will learn how welding protects your eyes when watching the eclipse and the risk of staring at the sun with bare eyes. Read on!

Watch Eclipse Through Welding Mask

How Welding Mask Protect Your Eyes When Watching The Eclipse?

Welders use the welding mask to protect their eyes, neck, and face. Note that welding produces flash burns, UV lights, heat, and sparks that can damage the eyes and even the skin if exposed for a long period. Even in arc welding, the masks prevent retina burns and inflamed corneas. This shows how effective a welding mask is in protecting you even when watching the eclipse.

Basically, the welding mask has a window in front with lens shade that allows welders to see while keeping their eyes protected. Check the features below that make welding helmet good for watching the sun:

Features That Make Welding Mask Suitable For Watching The Eclipse

Lens Shade

Welding masks have the lens number indicated on it. The numbers show their ability to protect eyes against ultraviolet and infrared rays. If you wish to use your welding mask to view the eclipse, you should ensure it has the ideal shade number recommended by NASA. 

The minimum recommended shade is 12 though it might be bright to some people. Lens at 13 level shades is the best as 14 might be too dark to get a perfect eclipse view. 

Auto-Darkening Masks

This is an essential feature that allows the mask to automatically detect light and adjust accordingly to block UV rays from reaching the eyes. However, not all auto-darkening helmets go up to shade level 14, as most glasses end at 13. 

An auto-darkening mask is good for watching eclipse as the sensitivity can be adjusted with delay turned down to protect the eyes. You should check that the transition is not low, which may pose a risk to your eyes. 

Is It Safer To Use Eclipse Glasses?

The safest way to watch the eclipse is by using IS0 12312-2 certified glasses. Failure to use such glasses can expose your eyes to strong UV rays causing temporary or permanent damage. Nonetheless, the right welding mask can sort you out, making no sense to spend a fortune to buy glasses that you would use once. 

In any case, the once-in-a-lifetime eclipse weekend attracts the attention of billions of people around the world, and the eclipse glasses can sell out before you get one.  As everyone wants a pair, the glasses’ prices may skyrocket, forcing some people to go for welding masks that meet the required standards. 

So, if you have the welding glasses of shade 12 and above, use them. This will save you time, money, and frustration of missing such an event that happens once in your lifetime.   

Safety Tips For Eclipse Viewing 

Apart from using glasses that meet the required standards, NASA also recommends the following:

1. Never use dark glasses in viewing the eclipse as they do not offer enough protection

2. Never use a homemade filter as there is no assurance that they provide sufficient protection to the eyes. 

3. Never use glasses that are more than three years old

4. Never use welding mask or glasses with dented lenses

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5. Use IS0 12312-2 certified glasses or welding mask that meet the required standards 

Risk Of Viewing The Eclipse Without Protecting Your Eyes

If you view the eclipse with bare eyes, the retina gets flooded with UV rays. As a result, the exposed tissue will experience burn due to oxidation when free radicals from UV rays react with the tissues. This kind of damage can be experienced a few seconds after viewing the eclipse without protecting the eyes. 

However, more harm can happen where UV rays burn eyes to form a hole in the retina. Consequently, the cone and rod photoreceptors are destroyed, causing what is known as photic or solar retinopathy. A small blind spot (scotoma) will then be formed, affecting your central vision. 

You might not feel the effect immediately as pain receptors are not present in the retina. But, with time (a few hours or even days), you may start seeing dark or yellow spots as your vision gets blurred and your eyes start to hurt. Luckily, most people recover after one year or so, with some living with the problems for the rest of their lives.

Symptoms Of Mild Photic Retinopathy

1. Headaches

2. Light sensitivity

3. Watery eyes

4. Eye soreness

Symptoms Of Serious Photic Retinopathy

1. Permanent eye damage

2. Blind spots

3. Challenge in making out shapes

4. Distorted vision

5. Blurry vision

6. Impaired color vision

Final Word

If you want to view the eclipse using a welding mask, then ensure it has a shade level of 12 and above. It is recommended to rest in-between viewing as a prolonged stare can pose some danger to your eyes. As a precaution, you should never use a welding mask that is +3 years old as it might not be effective.

Besides, it is always advisable to avoid any welding helmet that you do not know its shade level. The lenses of your mask should be free of any damage while offering 100% protection to your eyes. You would rather be safe than be sorry, so avoid any glasses that you aren’t sure of. The safest is to buy eclipse glasses that are IS0 12312-2 certified. 

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