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.
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.
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.
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:
- Wipe with the Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Wipe
- Spray with the Bruder Hygienic Eyelid Solution
- Warm with the Bruder Moist Heat Compress
As always, call your doctor if your symptoms persist since you may also need a prescription treatment.
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Warm compress for the treatment of dry eye, blepharitis and other eye irritations.