At our eye clinic near you, we’ve been seeing an increasing number of patients who visit due to stinging eyes, redness and blurred vision – all classic signs of dry eye syndrome. While dry eye syndrome has always been a common reason to book an appointment with our optometrist near you, what’s new is that the dry eye symptoms seem to be caused by wearing masks.
Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Blackfoot eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.
Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness was established by volunteers to decrease the amount of preventable blindness in children. They helped to almost eliminate a condition called ophthalmia neonatorum, a leading cause of blindness in infants at the time.
How do masks lead to dry eyes?
If you’re wearing a mask and eyeglasses, every time you breathe it fogs up your lenses. Then they defog, only to fog up again with your next breath. Steamed-up glasses and the onset of dry eye symptoms is an emerging condition to be aware of. The main reason for promoting awareness of MADE is not to encourage anyone to stop wearing a mask, but rather, it’s to help people manage the eye irritation that may result – while continuing to don face masks.
When you breathe, you expel air over the top of your mask. This air flows over the surface of your eyes and can dry out the tear film that coats and lubricates your eye surface. It also speeds evaporation of tears.
In general, our eye doctor near you has found that mask wearing doesn’t trigger the onset of dry eye syndrome in people who don’t have it. Instead, it can worsen symptoms in people who already have the condition or are at high risk for it – such as people who spend a lot of time staring at computer screens. Nowadays, with all the working-from-home and Zoom meetings that occur, most people fall into the category of “at risk” for dry eye syndrome.
How can you prevent your mask from causing dry eye irritation?
- Make sure your mask fits properly. A poorly fitting face covering increases the chances that exhaled air escapes from the top opening and flows over your eyes. Push the metal strip at the top margin of your mask so it fits snugly over the contour of your nose and cheekbones, blocking airflow.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes. This habit can lead to a long list of problems, including micro-scratches in your cornea and swelling that can exacerbate the symptoms.
- Don’t ignore dry eye symptoms. Pay attention to how your eyes feel and seek effective treatment, such as lubricating eye drops, from our optometrist near you.
Book an eye exam at an eye clinic near you to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you.
Dennis N. Marshall, OD, your Blackfoot eye doctor for eye exams and eye care
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