Why Facemasks Make Your Eyes Hurt—And What You Can Do About It

| Posted on May 24, 2021
From the experts: What can be done to relieve Mask-Associated Dry Eye? Answered by Dr. Marc Bloomenstein,OD, FAAO, Schwartz Laser Eye Center
Marc R. Bloomenstein, OD, FAAO, Schwartz Laser Eye Center

Face mask use has risen dramatically in the United States, which has caused a spike in in dry eyes. This newly coined condition has come to be known as mask-associated dry eye (MADE). If you wear a mask for long hours, spend a lot of time using digital devices or are a contact lens wearer, you may be at particularly high risk. The good news is there are ways to relive your symptoms.

Who Gets Dry Eye from Wearing a Facemask

Even if you never had problems with dry or uncomfortable eyes before, facemasks can be a pain—literally. Since facemask wear began, eye doctors have been seeing a lot more cases of dry eye disease, with many patients complaining about irritated, uncomfortable eyes and blurry vision. To get to the bottom of it, researchers conducted a study of 3,605 participants between the ages of 11 and 88, all of whom had mask-associated dry eye symptoms. They found that more than half (54.3 %) of these patients experienced dry eye symptoms and 13.6 % said they experience them often. Of the 2,447 people who were noticing MADE symptoms, 26.9% said they felt worse when they wore a face mask.

Since facemask wear began, eye doctors have been seeing a lot more cases of dry eye disease, with many patients complaining about irritated, uncomfortable eyes and blurry vision.

Why Eyes Feel More Dry

What is it about facemasks that’s causing so much dry eye? There are a few reasons. For example, if your facemask isn’t snug air will blow upward instead of outward, which has a drying effect on the ocular surface and accelerates tear evaporation, leading to ocular irritation and discomfort. Another potential cause is mechanical and occurs when your mask is pulling your lower lids downward. This can occur when you tape your mask to your face or when the mask sits too high on your face may be a contributing factor, perhaps due to mechanical pressure near the lid margin.

Tiny oil glands line the inside and outside of your eyelids. These glands release oils that keep your eyes feeling comfortable. Your eyelids need to be able to slide smoothly over the surface of your eyeball and the oil from these glands makes this happen, naturally.

What You Can Do to Feel More Comfortable

As long as masks remain an essential public safety measure, you shouldn’t stop wearing one to prevent dry eyes. Instead, try to take your mask off every few hours to rest your eyes. Take note of how often you blink and try to force yourself to blink more often. Rewetting drops can also help. But as with all things virus an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this regard, hygiene is extremely important. Just as you brush your teeth each night and wash your hands regularly, you should be taking steps to keep your eyes healthy and clean. Although a little soap and water on the eyelids may do the trick, many people prefer a gentle eyelid wipe such as the Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Wipe, especially if you have sensitive eyes or need to remove stubborn makeup.


How to Feel More Comfortable

Another key component of eye wellness is pure hypochlorous acid solution. Hypochlorous acid is a bactericidal component of the immune system. When the immune system comes across pathogens, it releases hypochlorous acid to kill the bacteria. Hypochlorous acid has shown highly effective in-vitro efficacy against a wide range of microorganisms, helping to fight infection, reduce inflammation, control the body’s response to injury, and enhance its natural ability to heal. The Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Solution contains no alcohol, oil, sulfates, parabens or added fragrance, making it an ideal foundation for good eyelid health and a beneficial addition to a daily eye care regimen.
Finally, add a moist heat eye compress to your daily routine. The Bruder Moist Heat Compress is filled with self-hydrating, silver-infused, patented antibacterial MediBeads® to help offer symptom relief. In addition to the clinical benefits, the eye compress is also a nice, relaxing treat at the end of a long day.
3 ways to combat mask-associated dry eye

Learn more about Mask Associated Dry Eye

Follow these three steps to help keep your eyes refreshed and healthy while helping alleviate and prevent Dry Eye.

In short, you may have to wear a facemask for a while longer, but you don’t necessarily need to suffer. Following these three simple steps can help:

  1. Wipe with the Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Wipe
  2. Spray with the Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Solution
  3. Warm with the Bruder Moist Heat Compress

As always, call your doctor if your symptoms persist since you may also need a prescription treatment.

Ready to improve your eye care? Order the #1 Doctor Recommended family of eye care products

Bruder Moist Heat Eye Compress

Warm compress for the treatment of dry eye, blepharitis and other eye irritations.

Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Cleansing Wipes
Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Cleansing Wipes
A gentle hypoallergenic formula to help remove the excessive oil and debris from your eyes.
Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Solution Spray -Two Sizes
Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Solution
An all-natural, proprietary solution that helps reduce bacteria and helps relieve dry eyes, styes, and more.