Corneal flash burns occur as a result of direct exposure to ultraviolet rays and require immediate care from your eye doctor.
From 2010 to 2019, approximately 109,127 welding-related eye injuries were reported in the United States. A significant majority of these cases involved men (98.2%) and primarily affected those in the 10-49 age group (83.8%). Flash burns caused by UV radiation were the most common type of injury, accounting for 62.1% of the cases.
Flash burns happen when there is direct exposure to the bright ultraviolet (UV) rays which harm the cornea, the clear part that covers the front surface of the eye. The most common cause of flash burns are welding torches in which case it’s sometimes known as welder’s flash, however it can easily occur from any type of UV light as well. Imagine a sunburn, only this time it is not on the skin, but rather your eyes. This is a flash burn and it can impact both the eyes. If your cornea is damaged, it carries the ability to heal by itself in a couple of days with the possibility of avoiding scarring, but that’s only if you get the proper care from a professional. If you do not get immediate treatment for a flash burn, there could be serious complications that can cause vision loss.
If you’ve been exposed to strong ultraviolet rays and you have any suspicion that this caused injury to your cornea, please schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor right away. In case your eye doctor is not available, you should immediately visit the emergency room at your nearest hospital.
Yes, a corneal flash burn, also known as welder's flash or arc eye, is considered an eye emergency that requires immediate medical attention. This condition can cause significant discomfort and pose the risk of complications, including infection or lasting vision problems if left untreated. You should see an eye doctor:
When it comes to treating flash burns or welder's flash, relying solely on home remedies is not advised. These types of eye injuries are a serious matter that require prompt professional medical evaluation and treatment. The ultraviolet light exposure can lead to corneal damage, and without proper medical intervention, complications like infection or long-term vision problems could arise.
Home remedies like cold compresses or using tea bags may offer temporary relief from the symptoms, but they won't address the underlying issue. In some cases, using home remedies may even exacerbate the problem or introduce infection. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, medical treatment often involves antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection and anti-inflammatory medication to control pain and swelling. You may also be advised to wear a patch or use lubricating eye drops.
If you suspect you have a flash burn, consult an eye care professional immediately for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment plan. Only a qualified eye doctor can provide the right diagnosis and medical treatment you'll need for a full recovery.
Managing pain is often the first step in treating flash burns. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory eye drops or prescribed medication can help alleviate discomfort. Additionally, oral pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be recommended to help you manage the pain. Always consult your doctor for the most appropriate medication and dosage for your condition.
One of the primary concerns with flash burns is the risk of infection. To mitigate this risk, antibiotic eye drops are usually prescribed. These drops are generally administered multiple times a day and are essential to prevent bacterial infection during the healing process.
Wearing an eye patch can minimize further irritation and light exposure, aiding in the healing process. An eye patch may be particularly useful in the initial stages, post-injury, to offer the eye a 'resting period' from any visual stress. Your eye doctor will provide guidance on how long you should wear the patch based on the severity of the injury.
Other treatments may include lubricating eye drops, also known as artificial tears, to alleviate dryness and irritation. Cold compresses may also be recommended to temporarily relieve symptoms like swelling. In severe cases, you may need more specialized treatments, and frequent follow-ups with your eye doctor will be necessary to monitor the healing process and adjust treatments as needed.
In order to make the correct diagnosis, your eye doctor will examine your eyes, take a history of your medical conditions and will ask you for details about the time and cause of the corneal flash burn. If you were exposed to ultraviolet radiation which caused damage to the cornea, the eye doctor would be able to make the right diagnosis immediately.
The eye doctor will check your eyelids, vision and the back part of your eye in order to understand the severity or extent of the damage or burn. Slit lamps are specifically designed to check the surface of your eyes so this tool will be very helpful in the diagnosis. The eye doctor may also give numbing eye drops to do a painless eye examination with a fluorescein dye that is applied to the cornea. This dye will temporarily stain the eye and make it look yellow just for a few minutes. The fluorescein allows the healthcare provider to clearly see the damage to the cornea when placing a blue filter on the eye which highlights the fluorescein.
The signs of this condition can manifest within a few hours after exposure to intense UV light. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:
Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to protecting your eyes from flash burns or welder's flash. The key is to minimize exposure to intense UV light by taking certain precautions. Here are some important steps you can take:
Taking these steps can go a long way in preventing flash burns. Always prioritize your eye safety to avoid the discomfort and potential complications that come with this condition.
If your cornea is directly exposed to UV light without proper protection, it can easily be damaged. Some of the leading sources of UV light include:
If you are not wearing the right kind of protective eyewear, the cornea could be damaged immediately. Wearing dark goggles or glasses can greatly reduce the risks of flash burns.
It is important to be aware of the danger that direct exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause to our eyes. It is strongly recommended to wear the proper protective gear to prevent flash burns from occurring in our eyes. If you have any cause of concern that you may have a flash burn, please see your eye doctor right away to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment.