An eclipse is a spectacular phenomenon wherein a planet or a moon moves into the shadow of another heavenly body.
No matter how remarkable an eclipse appears, there are dangers attributed to staring directly at sunlight.
Optical scientists have invented solar eclipse glasses, which are skillfully designed with solar filters for eye protection from the harmful blinding effects resulting from staring at direct sunlight.
If you have a welding helmet in your tool shed, you might ask the question: Can you wear a welding helmet to view an eclipse?
Let’s discuss the dangers of viewing a solar eclipse and the advantages and disadvantages of using various welding helmets to observe an eclipse.
Can You Wear a Welding Helmet to View an Eclipse?
Sometimes, you may not have all the information about solar eclipse schedules, and the spectacle would come to you as a surprise.
At that particular moment, you might recall this discussion and think about some protective welding gear you already own.
Can you watch the eclipse with a welding helmet from your tool shed?
Check out its features if they are enough to wade off the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Welding helmet viewing lenses have ratings called shade numbers.
Many welding helmets even have auto-darkening and adjustable shades for variable radiant lights produced during different welding tasks.
What Do Welding Shade Numbers Mean? What Shade Is Safe?
When using a welding helmet for viewing solar eclipse progressions, it is essential to understand the shade numbers available to that particular welding helmet.
The only thing you need to understand is that the shade numbers represent how heavily tinted a viewing lens is and how much ultraviolet and infrared radiation it can block.
The best auto darkening welding helmets have shade numbers ranging from one to 16.
The higher the shade number, the darker the tint and the more UV and IR blockers it has, which means a higher shade number may also hinder visibility.
We can now answer the question: Can you wear a welding helmet to view an eclipse?
Yes, as long as it has the right amount of shading. Using a welding helmet to view eclipse events only requires knowing the shading number of the viewing lens.
What Shade Should Your Welding Mask Be?
The best welding helmet for viewing solar eclipse progressions should have at least a Shade 12 rating.
A Shade 12 lens is darker than the filters employed in most welding tasks.
Older welding helmets have shade numbers less than 12, so be sure to know the shade number before using it to stare at the sun.
When using a welding helmet to view the eclipse, you will find that the sun might still be too bright under a Shade 12.
In that case, you can use something with a higher shade. A Shade 14 lens is more common than Shade 13 lenses, but you might experience minimal visibility with a Shade 14.
Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets
Modern welding helmets have an auto-darkening feature on the viewing lens.
This feature auto-adjusts the welding helmet’s viewing lens darkness depending on the radiant light detected by its arc sensors.
Although these viewing lenses are rated with a fixed ultraviolet ray blocker up to DIN16, the auto-darkening feature fluctuates the filter darkness.
Be careful when using auto-adjusting welding helmets since fluctuating filter shades could result in sudden light flashes.
Why Is a Solar Eclipse So Bad for Your Vision?
The answer to the question, “Can you watch the eclipse with a welding helmet?” also depends on the type of eclipse.
If you’re viewing a lunar eclipse, you don’t need a welding helmet or any other protective eye gear, for that matter.
While a lunar eclipse is perfectly safe to watch with the naked eye, a solar eclipse is potentially dangerous and damaging for eyesight.
Viewing a solar eclipse involves sun gazing, which results in photokeratitis, solar retinopathy, macular degeneration, and permanent blindness.
Can I use a welding mask to look at the eclipse? Before you do, check out the possible harmful effects of looking at the sun.
These effects are possible even with the use of a welding helmet.
Just as ultraviolet rays can burn the top layers of our skin, they can also burn the corneal surface and conjunctiva.
Photokeratitis is like a sunburn to the eyelids and white parts of the eyes, and like skin burns, it heals on its own over time.
However, repetitive photokeratitis damage is cumulative and can result in more severe eye problems.
Solar retinopathy is the most common effect of direct eclipse viewing without any protective lenses.
Simply put, UV rays go to the back of the eyes, through the pupils and retinas.
These UV rays damage the rods and cones of the retinas creating a temporary blind spot.
Macular degeneration is typically present in older adults, but repetitive and direct sun exposure can damage the filtering pigments present in the macula.
The symptoms of macular degeneration are treatable, but the condition itself is a type of permanent eye damage.
Extensive exposure to UV rays can also cause cataracts, abnormal eye growth, and cancer. The cumulative effects of these conditions will eventually lead to permanent blindness.
Can I Use a Welding Helmet to Watch the Solar Eclipse: The Conclusion
In summary, anyone can use a modern welding helmet’s dark-tinted viewing lens to watch a solar eclipse progression.
The welding helmet should have a shade 12 or higher to be sufficient for assured eyesight protection.
A shade 12 or higher viewing lens cancels out the ultraviolet and infrared radiations emitted by the sun’s rays, ensuring the avoidance of blindness.
If you have a welding helmet with variable auto-shading functions, be sure to learn how to adjust auto-darkening welding helmets first before using it to view a solar eclipse.
With all of these in mind and the different protective gear you have in your tool shed, you can now formulate your answer to the question: Can I use a welding mask to look at the eclipse?
Be mindful of some welding helmets that do not have enough protective properties to completely block off harmful ultraviolet rays.