A Mis-named diagnosis

“Welder’s burn” (ultraviolet-induced keratitis, i.e., sunburning the cornea) is mis named.

It should be named “welders’ helpers’ burn”.  I haven’t ever seen an actual welder with one, but have seen many new welders’ helpers with it.


  1. Randall Sexton says:

    When I was in high school shop class I zapped my eyes somehow. Woke up about 0300 really hurting. Technically, I was the welder as I wasn’t helping anyone.

  2. Seen a lot of both, probably since I’m one of those eye-docs.
    Best description i ever heard of UV keratitis (welder’s burn), from a welder who was a victim….”It feels like somebody poured a handful of red-hot sand in both eyes and then rubbed them as hard as they could.” OUCH. Best pain relief….cold compresses are miracle workers.

  3. I only saw it in welder once, when the protective lighting within the shield itself shorted out and failed. I was very glad to help the department research this, as in OCC. Health if you get hurt it better not be for lack of safety checks or skirting procedures. This case wan’t, and he was more worried about his job than his eyes!

  4. Glen in West Texas says:

    That’s because the helper is doing “fire watch” duty, standing around watching while holding extinguisher (or shovel, outdoors).

    It also gets health physics types assigned to monitor welding in the nuclear world- as they stand around and watch (though holding a radiac).

    You can also burn your neck and ears if you sit and face away from a welding job in a confined area.

    Welding is a trade with lots of hazards.

  5. Jack Coupal says:

    Maybe the welders cause it in the helpers as a form of initiation into the guild. and as a teaching moment.

  6. Hey Grunt Doc, Seen you in some articles once in awhile in the free EM newsmags. Just wanted to say HI. Made a first “real” post today in awhile…kind of funny, check it out.

    -Doc Shazam

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