When the COVID-19 outbreak began, one of the first requirements for the public is to wear face masks. This is because wearing a face mask prevents you from spreading the virus and contracting it yourself. However, as much as these masks keep you safe, they also have a few uncomfortable side effects. Aside from acne, foggy glasses, and facial irritation, one side effect that you can also experience is mask-associated dry eye.
Fortunately, many people are wearing masks and are adamant about stopping the spread of the virus. However, there is a significant increase in people who are experiencing dry eye symptoms and seeking treatment to relieve them from this irritation.
Since eye health issues are becoming more apparent, and we’re likely to continue to use masks for protection, you need to be aware of this issue and how to prevent it. In this article, we’ll be talking about what dry eyes are, how masks can cause this irritation and how you can avoid it.
What is dry eye?
Dry eye is a condition that occurs when the amount of liquid in your eyes or tears isn’t sufficient. This happens when your tear film is experiencing any disruptions to its functions.
Some of the symptoms you get when you have dry eyes are scratchy and stingy feelings, red eyes, light sensitivity and blurry vision. Some medications trigger these symptoms, or if you’ve recently had eye surgery, environmental factors, and most recently, face masks.
How do face masks trigger dry eye?
Unfortunately, since mask-associated dry eye is a new development, resources regarding this condition are still limited. However, a few reports are explaining the causes of mask-induced dry eye.
One of the causes for mask-associated dry eye is airflow. When you incorrectly wear a mask and you breathe out, air finds its way out of the mask and to the surface of your eyes and eyelids. This pushes the water in your eyes to evaporate and ultimately dry out your eyes. Some people try to prevent this by taping their masks; however, this interferes with your lower eyelid’s functions and still leads to dry eye.
How do I prevent dry eyes?
As mentioned earlier, a trigger of dry eye symptoms is airflow. To prevent this, you want to make sure that your mask fits your face well. You should look for a mask with a nose bridge that you can adjust and mould to your face so it can give you a tighter fit.
Another method is by adding cushioning to prevent air from escaping from your mask. You can do this by rolling and tucking a tissue under the top of the mask. In addition to this, you can seal your mask across the nose by using tape. However, this method can cause skin irritation and may interrupt your lower eyelid’s functions. If you prefer these methods, make sure you’re using tape that’s safe for your skin to avoid additional irritations and discomforts.
How do I relieve myself from dry eyes?
Throughout the day, when you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms, it’s best to lubricate your eyes with some eye drops. Oil-based lubricants are known to be an effective option because it helps prevent tear evaporation, which is one of the known causes of dry eyes.
Additionally, after a long day, you can use a hot compress or a warm wet washcloth and lay it on your eyes. This helps stimulate the Meibomian glands in your eyelids to push more oil out of your glands, ultimately lubricating your eyes.
The level of severity of dry eyes differs for many people. However, whatever type you have, it can still cause a lot of discomfort. By knowing the causes and preventive measures, you’ll be able to comfortably go about your day with your face mask on. Additionally, it would be best to seek medical assistance from opticians to get proper treatment and eye and mask recommendations for your comfort.
Do you need assistance with gritty eyes and dry eye discomforts? We are an independent team of opticians in Essex, Earls Colne and Frinton on Sea. We provide expert medical services, such as eye examinations, retinal imaging and more. Schedule an appointment today and get a full and comprehensive eye examination.