If you experience any of these symptoms and you wear a mask daily, you may have MADE. At the same time, doctors state that having dry eye is not a reason NOT to wear a mask, as the symptoms of the condition are easily preventable and treatable, and in many cases, stopping to wear a mask won’t help on its own anyway.
“The real reason for bringing this to people’s attention is to say, ‘Hey, if you notice this, this is why it’s happening and let’s help you manage your dry eye while you continue to wear your mask,’ ” stated Lyndon Jones, director of the University of Waterloo’s Center for Ocular Research and Education in Canada in a statement.
Research shows that the eyes may become dehydrated because the air escaping from the top of the face mask dries out the tear film, a protective fluid layer on the surface of the eye. As this film becomes depleted, we begin to experience discomfort in the eye area. In addition, the mask may be causing inflammation of the oil glands in the eye area, which can also contribute to dry eye syndrome, although aren’t clear on how exactly this may happen.
Related Article: Dry Eyes Will Be a Thing of the Past with These Remedies
1. Make sure your mask fits properly. Since it’s likely the air that escapes from your mask that’s contributing the issue, wearing a face mask that fits tightly in the nose area is key. To test if your mask fits properly, simply put on the mask and then a pair of glasses. If the glasses fog up within a few minutes, you need a better fitting mask. For example, surgical masks are a good option in general because they have a moldable wire on top that will help you adjust the fit.
2. Practice eye hygiene. Eye dryness isn’t caused by your face mask alone, and it’s important to practice beneficial habits that will help reduce and prevent dry eye. One such habit is the so-called "20-20-20 rule": when working at the computer, watching TV, reading, or browsing your smartphone, look 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. This trick will give your eyes a mini-break and rehydrate the surface of the eye.
3. Don’t rub your eyes. We’ve been warned, and rightfully so, that eye rubbing can potentially introduce you to the dangerous novel coronavirus, but this is actually not the only reason to do so. It turns out that eye dryness and a number of other eye issues, such as inflammation and micro-abrasions in the cornea can also be caused by rubbing your eyes.
4. Get hydrating eye drops to treat dry eyes. Artificial tear drops are effective at relieving symptoms of dry eye syndrome. The eye drops are available over the counter, but they shouldn’t be confused with anti-redness drops, such as Visine, which eye doctors do not recommend.
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