Okay, 2020, we’ve had it. Enough, already. A new study published in Ophthalmology and Therapy has found that wearing face masks has been associated with ocular irritation and dry eye symptoms.
Thanks to the COVID-19 world pandemic, face masks have become a normal part of everyone’s daily attire. Some people who work in professions like education, healthcare and hospitality have to wear a mask for long hours. Add that to having to wear it in the grocery store and every other store for that matter, and that’s a lot of daily face mask use.
As board-certified ophthalmologists with years of collective experience, our entire team of dedicated eye doctors have some useful information to share and strategies to suggest about face masks as they relate to your eyes and your vision.
“Regardless of the source of your Dry Eye symptoms,
we have some great solutions that can really help.”
—Dr. Jeanie Paik, Cornea Specialist
How Does a Face Mask Bother Your Eyes?
When wearing a face mask, your exhaled air is channeled upward, out the top of your face mask and over the surface of your eyes. If you’re wearing glasses or even sunglasses, you already know what happens; foggy glasses! We’ve all been there.
If you’re wearing glasses, this exhaled air can have a negative impact on your vision. But even if you’re not, it can negatively affect your eyes. The movement of the air over your eyes can cause your tears to evaporate more quickly, leaving the surface of the eye dry. After a long day of mask-wearing, your eyes can feel dry, gritty, irritated, watery and fatigued.
How to Combat Face Mask Dry Eye
Fit First. The first thing we recommend you do if you experience eye irritation after prolonged face mask use is to make sure your mask fits well and doesn’t have a large gap at the top. Try the kind that has the moldable nose bar.
Drop it. Lubricating eye drops may help relieve symptoms temporarily, but we always recommend seeing your eye doctor about which types of drops to use, as some over-the-counter varieties can make symptoms worse.
Rest is Best. With more people working and learning remotely than ever before, remember to be mindful of your screen time, as this can irritate already dry eyes as well. We recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from looking at the screen and focus on something 20 feet away.
Banish Dry Eye
Dry eye specialists at Eye Medical Clinic will perform a careful diagnostic exam to determine the source of your dry eye symptoms. Thorough testing leads to the best course of treatment and relief customized to your individual needs and issues.
We offer punctal plugs, which are tiny inserts gently placed into your eyelids to slow the drainage of tears away from your eyes. They help retain moisture and restore balance to your tear film. Our specialists are also trained in the medical treatment of your dry eye disease which may require prescription medication.
For more severe cases, Prokera and AmbioDisc are specialized contact lenses made with amniotic membranes with unique healing properties that act as a “nutrient boost” to the eye. One of our highly skilled specialists will gently place the amniotic membrane onto your eye and cover it with a clear, soft, disposable contact lens to hold the amniotic tissue in place. After a few days, the membrane fully dissolves, and the contact is removed. The cornea absorbs the nutrients that help to decrease the inflammation associated with dry eye.
Finally, scleral lenses can also be used for severe dry eye. These are large hard contact lenses that hold a reservoir of tears to hydrate your cornea in fluid all day. Your dry eye specialist will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan.
See Every Moment
Most insurance plans cover the dry eye procedures we offer at Eye Medical Clinic so don’t wait to find relief. Let’s finish 2020 strong! Schedule a dry eye consultation today.