Mask-associated dry eye is an emerging phenomenon that has some South Florida eye experts researching.
Dr. Mario Rojas, with Aran Eye Associates in Coral Gables, is one of the experts who has been looking into it.
"People are speculating still because we don’t exactly understand what we call the pathopysiology or the cause of why these symptoms are happening," Rojas said. "Of course people think that naturally just having that current of air going upward from your mouth to your eyes is causing a type of dryness."
One way to avoid the issue is to wear a mask that fits flush with your face or one that can be bent in the nose area.
"The proper way would be to kind of wear it mid-nose bridge. I personally like to wear a little piece of tape, it can irritate your skin, but at least something that kind of tightens this area or even putting a filter that kind of prevents some of the air from going upward," Rojas said.
Rojas said that although the eye dryness can be uncomfortable, the condition is easily managed and should not be a reason to stop wearing masks.
"The simplest things to do are get the artificial tears that you can get at your local pharmacy without a prescription. You can keep that in your pocket and use it up to four times per day," Rojas said. "Other things that are good for the oil glands are using warm compresses twice a day."
Aran Eye aAssociates has seen a minimal increase in coronavirus pandemic-related eye issues, but they have seen a major uptick in Lasik surgeries.
"We have a lot of patients who with their glasses they are getting fogged up, it’s becoming an issue in their workplace and their lifestyle. So that has been on the rise and it seems to be positive in a lot of these people’s lives," Rojas said.