Have you noticed that your eyes have started feeling dry and gritty ever since you started wearing a mask? It’s not just you! It’s called Mask-Associated Dry Eyes, and it’s a common occurrence amongst the population since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Wearing a mask is very important in preventing to spread of COVID-19. However, it does come with its side effects such as mask-related acne, mask-associated dry eyes, foggy glasses and general irritation around the face.
A poorly fitted mask around the nose and face is the main reason for this condition. If the mask is not tightly fitted, then when you breathe out every time, warm air escapes from the top of the mask and comes into contact with the eyes. This causes your tears to evaporate more quickly, leaving the eyes feeling dry, gritty, irritated and looking red. And, if you already suffer from dry eyes or wear contact lenses, this can make your existing symptoms worse.
Also, people who tape their masks to their upper cheeks to prevent the above can also suffer from dry eyes. If the mask is taped very tightly, it can pull the lower lids down and cause irritation.
In order to prevent this kind of dry eye, ensure your mask is tightly fitted around your nose and cheeks to prevent warm air from travelling upwards. If you choose to tape your mask to your cheeks, ensure it is not applied too tightly. To help relieve your symptoms, you can purchase over-the-counter artificial tears/dry eye drops. Please speak to a pharmacist or your local optometrist to obtain instructions on how to use them.
It’s also important to note that although rubbing your eyes can temporarily relieve you of your symptoms, you must follow the public health guidelines and avoid touching your face and eyes to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Lastly, when one suffers from dry eyes, your eyes can become sore or red as a result. Do not confuse these symptoms with viral conjunctivitis (red/pink eye), which has been reported as one of the symptoms of COVID-19. If you’re ever confused about your symptoms, contact your physician for further support, self-isolate and take the COVID-19 test, if necessary.