How have mask-associated dry eyes become a recent concern?

Halina Tseng

Published on February 11, 2022, 1:56 pm

How have mask-associated dry eyes become a recent concern?

Did you know: A study showed that the regular mask users marked an increase in the symptoms of dry eyes including the people who have never struggled with the issue before.

Using masks is among our primary moves of defence to prevent ourselves from the global pandemic, along with social distancing and the use of sanitizer. But have you ever thought of these preventive methods to create health issues, well that’s what happened in the case of face masks.

The saga of masks

As the world is combating and recovering from COVID-19, it’s crazy how our lives have changed in the past two years. Our work culture has shifted towards a digital box, and while our wish to have an indefinite holiday came true, it came along with a price.

Be it sitting in front of your screen for long hours or going out wearing masks and using sanitizers, the health-related issues never left our back. One such issue that is commonly being experienced is dry eyes caused by prolonged use of face masks.

The use of face masks has become mandatory, and experts have recommended them in or outside the house where social distancing is not possible. Well, now these essentials have become one major reason for causing dry eyes, even among the people who have never experienced such issues, and worsening in case of an existing issue.

What causes dry eyes?

The issue has been much better understood in the past years, the tear film or the liquid layer lubricates the eyes, allowing smooth movement of the eyelid every time you blink. The imbalance in your tear film causes dry eyes. People affected by dry eyes might experience sore eyes, red eyes and even feel irritated around the eye area.

There are various other symptoms as well causing dry eyes, such as pollution, excessive use of digital devices, poor air quality indoors, and even an air-conditioned office.

How did the masks become the culprit?

Have you heard of MADE? MADE or Mask-associated dry eyes is a new condition theorising that the mask-induced airflow structure might be the reason for dry eyes.

A mask must be significantly spread across the face covering your nose and mouth; however, the exhaled air needs to disperse, that’s where the problem occurs. If your mask is not properly placed on your face, it’s likely to force the air stream to move upwards towards the eye surface, which may lead to the evaporation of the tear film.

It could be well experienced by the people who wear glasses; the breathing under the mask causes lens fogging, that’s when you know your mask isn't properly placed. Although another phenomenon that is considered to trigger dry eyes is when the face mask is sealed on the top edge with tape, this interferes with eyelids causing incomplete blinking. It affects the natural movement of the eyelid and even disturbs the tear film making it less stable.

Nevertheless, prolonged use of face masks worsens the pre-existing issue of dry eyes and even forces a perfectly fit person to think why they are experiencing unavoidable irritation in the eyes.

Adopting smart ways

Smart and simple methods could actually help in reducing the situation of dry eyes caused by face masks.

  • For any severe concerns and eye-related issues, make sure to consult an expert and consider the advice as necessary.
  • While wearing a mask, make sure that it fits well and evenly covers your face without any gaps. For prolonged use, make sure the mask has a strong grip on the top edge.
  • While using masks in an airconditioned room make sure to limit the time.
  • You must highly consider taking regular breaks while using digital devices, as prolonged usage of screens is also one of the major causes of dry eyes.

Not to drop the mask

It’s super easy to address the MADE and improve your eye health with just a few simple steps. Whereas, when we come to the masks, there is no way you could ditch them; they are one crucial part of daily life, at least until the global pandemic exists.

Along with social distancing and proper hygiene; usage of masks is a staple and one of the best defence strategies against COVID-19, you just have to adapt smartly.

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