Does Wearing a Mask Cause Dry Eyes?
Although wearing a mask has many benefits: monitoring your good or bad breath, not having to pretend to smile when you’re not up for it, not having to wear makeup underneath it, not being recognizable in public … and, of course, being protected from the airborne transmission of a virus. But, as it turns out, masks also have their inconveniences (there had to be!), one of them being a problem that our eye care professionals happen to know very, very well.
Did you notice that your eyes are getting a little dryer?
The Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) along with the University of Waterloo have given it a name: The Mask Associated Dry Eye (MADE).
The explanation for this is pretty simple: as most face masks, even with a nose wire, leave a little bit of clear space between the top hem and your skin, the air your breath out is pushed upwards, escapes through that space and blows over the surface of your eyes, this causes your tear film to start evaporating, leading to dry eye symptoms like itchy, red, irritated and/or watery eyes.
Here are a few tips to help relieve Mask Associated Dry Eye:
First, make sure that the nose wire is moulded properly to your nose. If you still feel air coming out at the top of your mask or if it doesn't have a nose wire, sew a pipe cleaner to the top hem of your mask or use a couple of pieces of surgical tape to secure the mask to your cheeks! (This will also help prevent your glasses from fogging up if you are wearing them!)
Then, follow a few of these tricks to relieve your eyes. Use lubricating eye drops. Make sure to use eye drops that are recommended by your optometrist: not all eye drops are the same! Limit or avoid things that can increase dry eyes symptoms like:
Staring at a screen for too long (Give yourself a few breaks! Try the 20-20-20 rule, every twenty minutes, stare at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds)
Reduce your exposure to air-conditioned environments or air blowing into your eyes (like from a fan).
If dry eyes cause an issue for you and you would like to discuss it with your Optometrist (or if you haven’t been to the eye doctor in the last 2 years!), click here to book your next eye exam.