elkdoc

Safety glasses for forging...

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Blacksmith cataracts.

Yesterday I had my annual eye exam. While talking with the new doctor the subject of blacksmithing came up. He said that while in med school they had a subject of blacksmiths having a higher number of cataracts than other professions due to inadequate IR protection.

He was amazed that due to forging for 30 or so years mine were not bad enough to require surgery. He advised that I get a good pair of IR safety glasses.

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Donn't stare into the fire! It seems to be hard wired into us, fire has meant safety for I don't know how many tens of thousands of years. It's hard not to stare into a fire but it's worth the effort not to. First you don't have to walk around a shop full of hard, sharp,  hot stuff with that big purple spot in the middle of your vision. Then of course there are the cataracts to avoid if possible. Gas forges are the worst, they're brightly glowing eye candy.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Why I don't like folks putting gas forges *high* where it's easy to look into them!     

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Why I don't like folks putting gas forges *high* where it's easy to look into them!     

Good thinking. My next forge will have baffles that will block almost all the forge interior from easy view. It's hard not to stare into a fire, you gotta keep an eye on your steels but you can't stare without risk.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Hopefully it's okay that I'm reviving this thread.

Since finding this forum, I've been trying to be a little better about PPE. (I've always been pretty good, but I don't want to be that young guy who thinks he's invincible) I think after reading a bit about possible eye damage caused by IR, I would like to get a pair of 3.0 tint safety glasses. I'm pretty sure I would rather have the gray-colored ones, as opposed to the green ones.(I don't want everything to look green :)) My question is, will I still be able to see things reasonably well while wearing them? Are they more akin in visible light blocking properties to sunglasses, or eclipse glasses? I forge outside and during the day, so the light level is fairly high.

I can't find the forum policy about linking to products, but I won't link to them just in case, but the ones I am thinking about say they have a "Gray IR 3.0 lens" Is this the correct type of lens?

Thanks!

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When I was forging with shade 3 goggles, I never had any visibility issues working indoors under regular incandescent lights. Outdoors shouldn’t be a problem. 

“3.0” could mean anything; if you want shade 3, make sure it says “shade 3”.

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Thanks!

Here's (from the product page) what it says about the 3.0 thing:

"Gray 3.0 IR Filter Lens: The darker Gray lenses still offer true color recognition, while users are able to torch solder, torch braze, and perform light cutting up to 1". The darker shades may also be ideal for some with light-sensitive eyes."

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You are apparently doing your research. Just make sure whatever you get specifies "IR" for the filter for the infrared from a forge.

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Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to get the gray colored ones, since the only place I've found that sells them has pretty high shipping rates. I don't fancy paying more for shipping than the product. :blink: I'll probably end up getting the green ones and hoping they don't make reading temperature colors too difficult.

Question for anyone who has worn this type of glasses: Approximately how long has it taken you to get used to evaluating colors again? I'm not looking for an exact amount of time, and I know it will differ greatly between each individual (due to experience levels, etc.), but is it more on the order of a few hours at the forge, or a few months?

Many thanks for the help.

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I've been thinking a quite a bit about this (unintentionally, I assure you), and I've come up with a few questions:

Does glowing steel also produce IR, or is it only the fire? If yes, do tungsten filaments in incandescent light bulbs also produce IR?

If also yes, what protects our eyes when looking at light bulbs? Is it the argon atmosphere inside the bulb? The thin glass bulb itself? Or something else? If it is the glass, Would glass safety glasses block IR? (obviously not saying this is a good idea, I'm just wondering)

What are IR-blocking glasses made of? Is it poly-carbonate plastic like most safety glasses just with additives, or a different composition entirely? Is the reason glasses that block infra-red are usually green a similar reason as to why you wear green glasses when using red lasers? Or unrelated?

If you know the answers to any of these weird questions, please let me know.

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I've never heard of anyone's vision being impaired by staring into the forge fire or the hot metal.  I keep my shop with low light because I like to see even the slightest hint of color.  I used to forge outside and man what a difference.  Can you share what you've discovered as far as damage to the eyes regarding these things?  I don't know anyone who uses tinted glasses to forge with.  I'm truly interested in what you've read about this.  Thanks.

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If you're asking me, I do hope I didn't come across as someone who knows a lot about this! That's why I'm here asking questions. I will let you know what I've learned though. If I say something that someone else knows to be incorrect, I invite them to please correct me. Now then, with that out of the way, here's what I've found:

The reason it may be more dangerous in low-light conditions is because your pupils are dilated, letting in more electromagnetic radiation of all types, visible or otherwise. IR wavelengths extend from the nominal red edge of the visible spectrum at 700 nano-meters. This means that there is a large amount of different wavelengths that are categorized under the term "Infra-red"  There is nothing special about the demarcation between red light and IR light other than humans can see red light, but not IR.

I have yet to find a reputable source that is directly applicable to our topic, but here are a few sources you may find interesting:

https://www.renesas.com/us/en/doc/application-note/an1737.pdf

https://www.quora.com/Does-infrared-light-hurt-your-eyes

https://sciencing.com/infrared-light-effect-eyes-6142267.htmlhttps://sciencing.com/infrared-light-effect-eyes-6142267.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3V5PzTDP7E

Again, I in no way claim to be an expert, but if someone here is, I'd love to learn. :)

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By the way, here are my new prescription (bifocal) goggles:

A5A571B4-DA48-4DD4-ABCF-FF9CED05B7E2.jpeg

One nice thing about these is that you can swap the earpieces for an elastic strap. That means that the strap from my respirator and the pads of my ear protectors aren’t pushing the earpieces into the side of my head. 

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Chelonian,

Thanks for posting that info.  I'm not questioning you I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything.  

I guess the question of the hour would be if hot metal produces IR light or any spectrum that can't be visually detected?  That I didn't see in any of the links you posted.  I'm tending to believe that it doesn't or the blacksmiths of old would have experienced blindness or eye damage doing it day in and day out with many smithies being dark.

This kind of reminds me of the silicosis threat to flintknappers (I'm a flintknapper).  The old Brandon English gunflint knappers died in their 30's because of this disease.  They knapped thousands of gun flints weekly in small enclosed shop areas without any ventilation and it killed them.  For sure there's a danger in breathing in any form of silica and you should mitigate that if you can as much as you can but if you are not knapping daily it probably won't have a life altering impact on your lungs. 

I think this is probably the case with forging and the IR issue you cite here.  If you are a full-time blacksmith forging in a completely dark shop 6 days a week, maybe it's a problem.  I could be wrong and perhaps others have more information to add that would be helpful.  Anyone here using IR eye protection while forging? 

 

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10 minutes ago, MC Hammer said:

blacksmiths of old would have experienced blindness or eye damage

When I had my last annual eye exam, the question came up about IR damage. My optometrist is aware that I do blacksmithing. He told me that when in med school the subject of blacksmith's cataracts came up due to IR exposure. He advised me that my cataracts are not bad enough to require surgery yet and wants me to use IR protective glasses in the forge.

BTW... My mentor Ike Doss had to have cataract surgery when he was in his '70s which confirms that old time smiths did suffer from eye damage. I prefer not to test the waters and will use protection.

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Thanks Irondragon, that's some useful information.  I've never heard of this.  Why are we not seeing more blacksmiths using IR protective eye wear?  

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Because the damage occurs slowly over many years and so most folks ignore the danger---especially hobby  smiths who don't spend that much time at the forge.   (I know a lot of folks with Cataracts in their 70's who are not smiths---common down here where UV damage from the sun is endemic.)

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I would guess that an equal if not greater cause than ignoring the danger is simply not knowing about it. It's not talked about that much, so many smiths likely are completely unaware of it. Case in point, I hadn't thought about it at all until I saw this thread.

Perhaps a concise version of this thread could be added to the "Read This First" thread to help spread awareness? Just an idea.

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I fall into that catagory of never really hearing about this.  I must admit, I've seen the thread but though it was just about wearing safety glasses which I do faithfully until I exit the shop after hanging up my apron.  

I think the million dollar question is how many smiths on this forum actually where IR eye protection while forging?  Many experienced smiths have chimed in, but do they actually mitigate this or just take their chances?  

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14 hours ago, Chelonian said:

Perhaps a concise version of this thread could be added to the "Read This First" thread to help spread awareness? Just an idea.

"Read This First" is specifically about how to get the most out of the forum (navigation, quoting policy, asking questions, etc), not a general how-to about smithing.

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Perhaps a Common Mistakes when getting started in Blacksmithing thread/sticky?

Some suggestions that need to be fleshed out:

Grinding or milling the face of an anvil.

Not using PPE

Ventilation Ventilation Ventilation!

Trying to harden mild steel.

Building a forge using plaster of paris and sand....AKA not everyone posting on Youtube knows what they are talking about, Sturgeons Law in strict construction is applicable!

Thinking you need a London Pattern anvil to do good smithing.

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4 hours ago, JHCC said:

"Read This First" is specifically about how to get the most out of the forum (navigation, quoting policy, asking questions, etc), not a general how-to about smithing.

If it is strictly for forum usage, then why does it have a paragraph on grinding and milling anvil faces?

Thomas, I think that's a good idea as well. Some other suggestions to possibly add to it:

Don't try to make a sword for your first project.

Rebar is not good steel for most projects.

An extremely heavy hammer is not necessarily better.

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Good additions!

(and; some of use feel VERY strongly about anvil abuse.  I have personally seen a bunch of anvils that were ruined through milling or grinding!)

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