On August 31st the Center for Ocular Research & Education (CORE), issued an alert to advise practitioners on how to recognize mask-associated dry eye (MADE). Wearing a face mask is an important part of preventing the spread of Covid-19, but some of the side effects of doing so are maskne (acne from wearing the mask), foggy glasses and general facial irritation.
As mask use is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, researchers from the University of Utah have seen an increase in dry eye among regular mask wearers or people who wear a mask for a long period of time. The condition could be attributed to incorrect mask wearing.
Dry eye is fairly common, symptoms include:
- A scratchy feeling like something is in your eye.
- Stinging or burning
- Red eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
A majority of individuals with MADE describe an awareness of exhaled air blowing upward from the top of the mask. This air can hit the eyes and accelerate the evaporation of the tear film.
Ways to mitigate this condition:
- Ensure your mask fits snug and hugs the skin with no gaps. Get a mask that has a bit of wire or metal strips over the bridge of the nose for tightening.
- Lubricating drops for the eye.
- Limit time in the air-conditioned environment as this can also dry the eye.
- Take breaks from digital devices starring at the screen also contributes to drying the eye. Practice the 20-20-20 rule.
- Wear eye protection such as goggles or wrap around sunglasses
- Do blink exercises.
- Take a break every few hours and remove the mask when it is safe to do so.