A clinical assessment of the anterior eye in arc welders

Michael J. Doughty, Emil Oblak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Corneal irradiation with high doses of ultraviolet-B (UVB) has been shown to damage the corneal endothelium in animals. Human occupational exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in welding is considered a risk for endothelial damage but the evidence for such an effect is limited. Methods: External eye photographs and non-contact specular micrographs (Topcon SP2000-P) were obtained from 102 white males aged between 32 and 62 years, 51 being arc welders (with 24 t 7 years experience) and 51 office workers. Most welders reported repeated occupational exposure to UVR (that is, welder's ‘flashes’). Results: Welders reported a higher level of ocular symptoms and a higher prevalence of pingueculae (47 versus 12 per cent), but only one case with pterygiurn. The average endothelial cell areas were the same in welders and office workers (398 ± 55 pm2 versus 400 ± 56 pm2; p = 0.868) as were the endothelial cell density (ECD) values (2,555 k 342 cells/mm2 versus 2,541 ± 308 cells/mm2; p = 0.825). ECD decreased with years of welding experience (p <0.01) but not faster than the decrease in ECD due to age. Conclusions: Repeated occupational ultraviolet radiation exposure through welding is not associated with any obvious differences in the corneal endothelium. No differences were observed in either ECD or cell polymegethism. Despite the periodic welding flashes, the exposure levels are below those needed to cause damage to the corneal endothelium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-395
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • anterior eye
  • corneal endolethium
  • welders


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