Newly coined medical condition is mask-associated dry eye (MADE).
The face mask is part of our ‘new normal’ daily routine and has become an indispensable accessory of our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. From the moment we step out of homes until we return after a long day, we may have at times had to mask up.
The Surprising Reason Your Face Mask Might Be Causing Dry Eye
If you wear contact lenses or have had laser surgery to correct your vision, you're likely no stranger to dry-eye syndrome. You feel as if your eyes are stinging, and they're red, irritated, and teary (via American Academy of Ophthalmology). And now, there's a new reason you get dry-eye syndrome that's tied to the pandemic — and it all has to do with wearing a face mask.
Eye doctors say they're seeing an increase in what they're calling MADE or mask-associated dry eye, which happens when exhaled air exits your mask by moving upwards, forcing air to move over the surface of your eyes.
That air causes your tears to evaporate, the same way sweat evaporates from the surface of your skin. When you wear a mask for long periods of time, this evaporation could lead to dry spots on the surface of your eye. People who are especially susceptible to MADE include contact lens wearers and people who stare at electronic screens for extended periods of time — which sounds like all of us who work from home and have to attend what now feels like a million zoom video meeting’s a day.
if you’ve been struggling with sudden dry eye symptoms and they’re disruptive, you probably want to take action, ideally sooner rather than later.
The first step to helping relieve any eye issues you may have is to make sure your mask fits. Looking for a mask with a nose bridge that you can mould to your face and adjustable ear loops can help ensure a tighter fit. If that doesn’t work, folding a tissue into a roll and tucking it under the top of the mask to add an extra cushion to the top edge of the mask and prevent air from escaping, similar to placing a towel under the door to avoid a draft, may help.
You can also try to use medical tape to seal your mask across your nose, take care to use the right tape for this to avoid skin irritation, and tape the mask to the cheek instead of the lower eyelid to maintain healthy blinking.
At night, you can use hot compresses on your eyes (wet a washcloth with warm or hot water, and lay it on your eyes for a few minutes). This can help stimulate your eyelid’s Meibomian glands—which are responsible for the oily outer layer of your tears—and push more oil out of the glands. And, with more oil in your tears, the lubrication on your eyes should be less likely to evaporate as quickly.
Importance of our tear film’s delicate balance
When addressing MADE, it is helpful to understand our tear film, the liquid layer that coats the eye’s surface. This tiny volume of fluid, equivalent to one-tenth of a single water drop, has a highly complex structure and composition. It lubricates the surface of the eye, allowing smooth and comfortable passage of the eyelid during every blink. Ongoing imbalance in the tear film leads to dry eye disease.
Eyes feel sore, dry and irritated, and may water and look red.
Using lubricating eye drops a few times a day is our recommendation to avoid MADE. So why not try I-Dew Drops today! Shop Now