Why do face masks make your eyes feel dry?

How do face masks make your eyes feel dry?

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Wearing masks has been the new normal ever since Covid came into our lives. No matter if you find them uncomfortable or suffocated, wearing them is the need of the hour. Whenever you are going out in public, make sure your face is covered so you don’t contract the virus from infected respiratory droplets.

While wearing face masks is essential, several clinical studies have shown that face masks can be a common cause of ocular dryness and irritation.

People who wear face masks for longer durations are more prone to eye dryness. This problem also has a name and is called ‘Mask-Associated Dry Eye Syndrome’ or MADE.

So, are face masks to be blamed for our dry eyes? Or is there something that we don’t know? Let’s put an end to this curiosity.

How do face masks lead to dry eyes?

One most common reason why face masks make our eyes feel dry is the limited space for warm breath to get out.

If your mask doesn’t fit right or is loose around your nose,  the breath you exhale will go upward and out from the space between your mask and nose. The warm breath will reach your eyes and evaporate the tears on the ocular surface.

Due to your breath reaching the surface of your eyes, the thin film of tears gets dried out quickly leaving your eyes feeling irritated and sore.

If you wear contact lenses, the situation may become even more uncomfortable for you as the lack of lubrication of the eyes can be troublesome for your contacts.

However, some people like to secure the gaps between the mask and nose by using tape. They tape up their masks to their cheekbones to make sure that the hot breath does not go out. But, if you put the tape on too tightly, it can stretch down your lower eyelid letting more air touch the surface of your eyes.

The symptoms of mask-associated dry eye syndrome can be similar to that of pink eye. Get a free eye test in the UK to rule out the exact cause behind this problem.

Who is prone to MADE?

If you already have dry eye syndrome, wearing face masks will only add to the discomfort. Also, the natural ability of the eyes to produce tears is quite low in older people. So, if you are old, you are most likely to be affected by mask-associated dry eye problems.

Also, it is a known fact that your blinking rate declines when you are indulging in screen time. The blue light in your devices reduces the screen contrast and your eyes have to focus intensely without blinking. This causes temporary dryness in your eyes.

But, if you are in your office and working on your computer while wearing face masks, the dry eye problem gets doubled up. Make sure you wear screen glasses that filter out the notorious blue light so you can have a normal blinking rate.

Should you wear contacts?

Ditch your contact lenses as they will only add up to the consequences of your dry eye problem. If you have a refractive error, contact an optometrist to get a prescription for your new eyeglasses.

Prescription for contacts is different from prescription for glasses. So, have an eye test and get your latest prescription. No matter how much you love wearing contacts, you should think about your eyes first.

Glasses are much more comfortable and safer than contacts. Buy online glasses with your updated prescription and ward off the discomforts of dry eyes.

What else can you do?

There are other ways to tackle the dry eye problem. Here are a few solutions that will help:

  • Make sure your mask has a proper fit and does not leave space from the sides of your nose.
  • Do not spend much time in air-conditioned rooms or windy areas as the air will make your eyes dry out more quickly.
  • When indulging in screen time, blink your eyes every five seconds and wear screen glasses to dodge blue light.
  • If your eyes are already dry, wear anti-glare glasses when you are in bright light settings. Bright lights can cause irritation to your dry eyes.
  • Use prescription eye drops or artificial tears to lubricate the surface of your eyes and maintain optimum moisture levels in your eyes.
  • Switch to prescription & non-prescription glasses from contact lenses.

Following the Covid rules should not be a punishment to your eyes. Use these measures to make sure that your eyes are properly lubricated. Reach out to an optometrist or eye doctor for your dry eye problem.

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