Why Face Mask Cause Dry Eye?
With the necessity to wear face masks due to COVID-19, scientists have noticed our eyes becoming more at risk for dry eye symptoms, which includes redness, soreness, irritation (like sand/grit) and sometimes watery eyes. Dry eyes can also be caused by excessive use of digital screens, poor indoor air quality and hot & windy weather.
What is MADE?
Mask Associated Dry Eye (MADE) is the clinical term first coined in June by an ophthalmologist due to increase incidents of dry eye in their office. Our tear film is highly complex and struggles to maintain a fine balance of water, oils, and mucin. Poorly fitted masks allows exhaled air to disperse upwards and into our eyes. Hot air rises and drys out our eyes and causes our glasses to also fog. Contact lenses do not increase the risk of contracting COVID-19; however, it can make the eyes more dry, which may increase our risk of touching our eyes and face.
Coronavirus transmission can occur through the mouth, nose, and to a less extend through our eyes. People with dry eyes tend to rub their eyes or touch our face more often which can increase the risk of contracting coronavirus. They also tend to get more infections.
What to do?
- Always make sure your mask is fitted well. We recommend disposal surgical face masks for daily wear for not only comfort but also safety. First, fold the mask in half, paying attention to pinching the nose wire. Place on your face and loop bands around your ears. Pinch the nose wire so that it shaped around your nose and around your face. Then pull the mask down to cover your chin. You can apply surgical tape around the nose area to keep the mask fitted tight. Cloth mask retain a lot of moisture, which can evapourate and dry out our eyes. N95 masks need to be fitted well by a professional. Masks with a valve will increase your risk of contracting COVID-19.
- Seek your eye doctor for any eye related conditions. Sometimes, it's hard to tell. Your optometrist can help you diagnose whether your eyes are related to an infection, virus, allergy, or dry eyes.
- Use eye drops to hydrate your eyes. Preservative-free eye drops are the way to go for healthy safe eyes. Your eye doctor can also recommend the right drops for you. Stay safe and healthy.