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Arc eye
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 H16.1
ICD-9 370.24

Arc eye (keratoconjunctivitis photoelectrica), also known as welder's flash, bake eyes, corneal flash burns, or flash burns, is a painful ocular condition sometimes experienced by welders who have failed to use adequate eye protection. It is also referred to as arc flash, though this can also refer to an electrical explosion. It can also occur due to using tanning beds without proper eyewear.

Although not caused by an arc, the identical syndrome of ultraviolet keratitis can be caused by UV from excessive sun exposure, light reflected from snow (known as snow blindness), water or sand. The intense ultraviolet light absorbed by the eye causes a superficial and painful keratitis. [1]

Symptoms tend to occur a number of hours after exposure and typically resolve spontaneously within 36 hours. The sensation has been described as like having sand poured into the eyes.

Although it is possible for defects in specific types of industrial lighting to cause the same problem, this phenomenon cannot be caused by simple over-illumination as commonly found in many factory and office environments.




  • Instill topical anaesthesia
  • Inspect the cornea for any foreign body
  • Patch the worse of the two eyes and prescribe analgesia
  • Topical antibiotics in the form of eye drops or eye ointment or both should be prescribed for prophylaxis against infection


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