Can you Look at the Sun with a Welding Helmet

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As we were growing up, we were warned continuously not to stare at the sun. The danger of staring at the sun with bare eyes includes eye damage and vision problems. In response, we got used to wearing hats and sunglasses. But can you look at the sun with a welding helmet? I believe it’s the best way to look at the sun directly without going blind. 

You can look at the sun directly using a welding helmet. According to NASA, you can look at the sun directly as long as the welding helmet has a lens shade of at least 12. Welding helmets have different shade levels aimed at protecting your eyes. When it comes to looking directly at the sun, some helmets are safer than others. 

How does a Welding Helmet Protect your Eyes from the Sunlight Glare?

A welding helmet is simply a headgear that welders wear for eye, neck, and face protection. Without the eye protection of the welding helmet, the bright welding light or sunlight can damage the eye retina and cornea. 

The welding helmet has the following features that enable it to protect your eyes from the sun. 

Lens Shade

Welding helmets are assigned specific numbers that indicate their ability to filter UV and infrared rays. Therefore, ensure the welding helmet has an appropriate lens shade number for looking directly at the sun. The best lens shade level is 13, level 14 is too dark. Also, lens shade level 12 can do. 

However, lenses are not typically labeled to indicate their specific shading. It’s good to have some knowledge on suitable shade levels of these welding helmets. 


Most welders love welding helmets with auto-darkening mode as it gives them everything they need. Welding work needs lighting adjustments, and having an auto-darkening feature makes welding easier. You can also test the auto darkening feature of your helmet by looking at the sun.

Welding work involves working with different metals that emit different bright lights. An auto-darkening shade can adjust between varying levels of brightness, hence protecting your eyes from the bright lights regardless of the metal you are welding. 

Pick a welding helmet with an auto-darkening shade for looking at the sun. However, ensure the sensitivity is up then turn the delay down. The adjustment helps your helmet lens to adjust to a higher shade quickly. The sun is bright and a slow adjustment can damage your eyes. 

What Happens if you Look at the Sun Directly without Eye Protection?

Am sure you have been told before that you will be blind if you look at the sun directly. Actually, this is true 100 percent. However, it doesn’t happen like that. There are stages you will pass before going blind. Looking at the sun with bare eyes for a few minutes will cause intolerable pain. 

First, you experience a sunburn, which doesn’t happen immediately but develops faster with time. The following stages will help you understand what happens better. 

Stage One

The sun releases three lights, vision light, Infrared light, and Ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet light is the most destructive or damaging of the three. UV light does maximum damage, but first, it hurts the moment you are exposed to the light. 

Stage Two

Exposure to UV light for longer periods makes the eye cornea burn giving your blisters. Also, the eye cracks like it’s the case in sunburn skins. This is followed by photokeratitis. 

Stage Three

The photokeratitis effect is not instantly manifested. First, you feel discomfort in the eyes after staring at the sun for hours. It feels like you brutally rubbed your eyes. You may feel inflamed too. 

Some people are lucky as these effects disappear after a few hours, but only after giving the eyes proper rest. The constant burning sensation, irritation, and discomfort in your eyes can be too much. The effect can last for long. 

Stage Four

Your retina is overstimulated after sensing the UV light. The retina releases certain chemicals that impair your eye tissues. The more you expose your eyes to UV light, the more damage to the tissues which may be irrecoverable. However, the damage can be cured in a year with the proper care of a specialist. 

If there is sufficient damage to the eye tissues, you may be partially blind for the rest of your life. Back in 1999, a patient suffered retinopathy because of constantly staring directly at a solar eclipse for 30-minutes. 

Stage Five

Damage to the macula. The macula is a small section in the retina located close to the center of your retina. When there is high damage to the retina because of excessive exposure to UV light, the macula suffers as well. Once there is damage to the macula, you suffer from total blindness and there is zero chance of getting cured. 

Safe ways to Look at the Sun

Can you look directly at the sun with a welding helmet? You can, provided that you do it right and have a welding helmet with the right lens shade of 12 or 13. never look directly at the sun without proper safety as it can damage your eyes permanently. 

Keep in mind the following things to safely look at the sun directly with the welding helmet.  

  • Put on the Helmet First

Because the welding helmet is your viewing method, ensure you put it on first before you look at the sun. Resist the temptation to stare first, then put on the welding helmet and never take off the helmet while still looking at the sun. If you want to take off the helmet, first turn your face away from the sun. 

  • Level of Protection

Apart from using a welding helmet with the right lens shade level of 12 or 13, ensure the helmet gives you complete eye protection. The viewing size should be adequate and free of cracks or any damage that can disrupt the protective shield offered by the welding helmet.

Bottom Line

Can you look at the sun with a welding helmet? Yes, as long as the helmet has a lens shade of 12 or 13. Try not to look at the sun for longer periods, give your eyes rest for some time before staring again.

Don’t use an old welding helmet, as it may have damage or cracks that will lower the eye protection. The viewing angle should not have any kind of damage. Only use a welding helmet that gives you full protection.

To learn more, or if you have more questions, feel free to ask.

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