Are Face Masks Causing Dry Eye Symptoms?
Do your eyes feel dry and irritated after wearing a face mask?
You’re not the only one.
Along with social distancing, face masks are an important part of COVID-19 prevention. However, researchers at the University of Utah are suggesting that regular mask use may also be exacerbating the symptoms of dry eye. So many eyecare professionals have made the same observation that the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) has even given this condition a name: Mask-Associated Dry Eye (MADE).
What is Mask-Associated Dry Eye (MADE)?
When you wear a face mask, it limits the distribution of air when you exhale. Instead of spreading out, this air moves upward, toward your eyes. (If you wear glasses, this is the reason why the lenses fog up constantly.) Your tear film then evaporates more quickly, leading to dryness, irritation, and discomfort.
MADE can also be caused by improper blinking due to a tight mask. When you blink, it helps lubricate your eyes. If your mask is too tight and rides high on your face, it can pull down on your lower lid and affect blinking. The exposed part of your eye can dry out, causing uncomfortable symptoms.
Regardless of cause, you may experience symptoms like:
In addition to those who already have dry eye, people who are most likely to experience mask-related dry eye symptoms include:
How Can You Prevent or Alleviate Mask-Related Dry Eye?
These measures can help you reduce dry eye while wearing a mask:
Having to wear a face mask can dry out your eyes, but relief is available.
At Uptown Eye Specialists, one of the signature treatments at our Dry Eye Clinic is UltraView DEL (Dry Eye Laser), which uses gentle pulses of light to treat clogged meibomian glands within the eyelids. By dissolving hardened oils and enabling natural oil production, UltraView DEL will soothe your eyes and restore your comfort.
If you’re experiencing persistent or worsening dry eye symptoms, contact our Dry Eye Clinic to learn more about how our treatments can address it. By taking steps to increase your eye comfort during mask wear, we can help you progress safely during your normal activities this winter.