welder's flash

Last reviewed 01/2018

Ultraviolet irradiation produces a superficial and painful keratitis. Commonly, this is caused by exposure to an electric welding arc or to light reflected from snow, sea or sand. Usually, the injury resolves spontaneously within 36 hours.

The onset of symptoms occurs 6-8 hrs after exposure. The characteristic features are:

  • intense bilateral lacrimation
  • blepharospasm
  • photophobia

Fluorescein staining of the eye reveals many punctate erosions of the cornea which resolve in hours.

Treatment consists of mydriatics, padding of the eye, analgesia and reassurance.