One of the things I have been asked more about recently has been whether or not masks can contribute to dry eyes.
As we head into the depths of winter, with no clear end of the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, we have all been required to wear our face coverings for ever longer periods of time.
One of the most common complaints about masks is that they cause our glasses to fog up, a problem easily resolved by the use of a range of products available at Argus Opticians, such as anti-fog gels and cloths. Consideration should also be given to making the switch to contact lenses.
A less well known, but increasingly common complaint, has been that the masks are causing dry eye symptoms.
The purpose of the masks is to reduce the outwards spread of air. However, as most masks tend to fit poorly, the warm air escapes upwards, passing over the ocular surface, speeding up tear evaporation and causing the eyes to dry. The resultant symptoms can include itchy and gritty eyes, as well as intermittent blurred vision. These symptoms can be exacerbated if the mask wearer is also spending long hours on a PC, or working in a dry, warm, or air conditioned environment.
In order to mitigate against mask associated dry eye (MADE), it is important to ensure the mask is fitted properly. Taping across the top of the mask can help direct air flow downwards. Limiting time spent on devices and in warm or air conditioned environments can also help, as can taking regular breaks, hydrating well and blinking fully.
Mask wearing also seems to be causing an increase in the number of people with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis) and styes. This is likely because people are getting irritable dry eyes and are rubbing them, thus transferring bacteria to the eye. Another possible reason for this, is that bacteria from poorly fitted masks could be getting onto the lids.
At #argusopticians Accessories | Argus Opticians we have a range of products to clean the eyelids, as well as anti-bacterial sprays, for the eyelids and surrounds. These products will reduce the likelihood of inflammation or infection. We also have an excellent dry eye clinic and an extensive range of products to manage mask associated dry eye.
Contact lens wearers are also experiencing more comfort issues with their lenses, again associated with the drying out of the ocular surface whilst wearing masks. Improved lubrication of the ocular surface using some of the contact lens specific eye drops available at #argusopticians Accessories | Argus Opticians can help resolve these comfort issues
It is most important that we continue to wear our masks, but if you do find that you are experiencing any symptoms of dry eye or lid inflammation, please do not hesitate to contact us to book an appointment in Donegal Town or Bundoran and we will recommend a management strategy.