As we all have adjusted to the pandemic life (mask up, sanitize, social distancing and repeat), the battle is half won. We just need to be constant in our efforts during these tough times.
But, there is a more serious concern that has stemmed out of these Covid rules – dry eye. Wearing face masks for a prolonged period of time has shown to trigger the symptoms of dry eye in people.
Even people with no history of eye problems in the past have reported dry eye symptoms over the past few months. So, how do face masks cause this problem? And if they do, what are the possible measures to prevent this from happening.
Mask-Associated Dry Eye (MADE)
The problem of dry eyes from using face masks has been given a name – MADE. Face coverings do not give any outlet to your warm breath. Thus, it flows outwards from the corners of your nose.
When the warm breath flows upwards, it reaches the surface of your eyes and causes the thin film tear on your eyes to evaporate. As a result, it strips your eyes of moisture and leaves them dry.
It is not only the face mask that is causing dry eyes, when you tape it down to close the gaps at the corners of your nose, it also poses a problem for your eyes.
When you tape up too tightly, it can stretch the lower eyelids. This leads to lower blinking rates and also allows more air to touch the surface of your eyes. Hence, your eyes feel dry after wearing a face mask for a good amount of time.
This is growing the concern for eye health as face coverings are going to stay for years to come. But, mask-associated dry eye problems could easily be confused with dry eye conjunctivitis. Make sure you have an eye test to rule out the exact culprit behind this problem.
Symptoms of dry eye
Dry eye refers to a problem where the tear glands in your eyes become incapable of producing enough tears to keep your eyes lubricated. As a result, you feel dryness in your eyes and a sense of irritation or soreness.
Eye dryness is a common problem in people over 40. As you age, your eyes begin to show changes in their performance and lower production of tears is one of those changes. If you wear reading glasses, make sure they have an anti-reflective coating so your dry eyes won’t lead to light sensitivity.
Dry eye is a common problem in windy places or high humidity areas. It is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Red eyes
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Burning or stinging sensation in the eye
- Feeling that something is in the eye
Although this problem could even result from a recently done LASIK eye surgery or taking medications, prolonged use of face masks can also trigger this problem.
Who is more vulnerable to MADE?
People who already have a medical history of dry eye problems are more likely to feel dryness in their eyes due to face masks. Those who wear contact lenses for long amounts of time may also sense dryness in their eyes.
Contact lenses absorb the moisture in your eye. Thus, it is a smart idea to switch to prescription glasses to ease down the symptoms of dry eyes. If you indulge in extended hours of screen time, you may as well have a bitter encounter with this problem.
How to prevent MADE?
Face masks are going to be here for a few more years. It’s better that we gear up and do everything that’s in our power to make sure that our eyes are okay.
- Choose a face mask with a moldable nose bar. It will sit comfortably around you and won’t let the air flow out.
- If you indulge in screen time, use blue light glasses to prevent your eyes from blinding glare and reflections.
- Use artificial tears or eye drops to maintain a healthy moisture level in your eyes.
- Take a warm washcloth and place it over your eyes. The warmth will stimulate the blocked tear glands in your eyes so they produce an adequate amount of tears.
- Do not spend time in windy places or air-conditioned rooms. The air will make your eyes run dry even further.
These are all the measures that will help you avoid the dry eye problem. However, if the problem gets serious, don’t hesitate to reach out to an eye specialist.
If you already have dry eyes, use glasses with an anti-reflective coating so your eyes don’t feel irritated from bright lights. If you need them urgently, there are some online eyewear retailers that offer same-day glasses. Whether prescription or fake, you will get your glasses in just one day.
Author: I’m Jaylin: Guest post service planner of Leelija and full time blogger. Favorite things include my camera, traveling, caring my fitness, food and my fashion. Email id: [email protected]