Mask Associated Dry Eye (MADE)
Masks are essential for us to wear to help protect us against COVID-19. However, they have been known to cause dry eye symptoms, often referred to as Mask Associated Dry Eye (MADE).1 As we breathe in the mask, it causes the air to travel upwards and over the surface of the eye, causing our tears to evaporate and leaving our eyes dry.1 This can lead to eyes feeling gritty, irritated, red, itchy or watery, common symptoms of dry eye syndrome.2
Four simple ways to ease symptoms of dry eye when wearing a mask.
- A well-fitting mask can help prevent dry eye symptoms.
Ensure that your mask fits you properly. Although this may sound obvious, this is particularly important for those that wear spectacles or sunglasses with their mask.3 You can adjust your mask to fit you in various ways including adjusting the ear loops of the mask to ensure it fits snugly, or carefully tape the top edge of the mask so that does not interfere with blinking.3
- Limiting time in air conditioned or heated rooms can relieve dry eye.
Air conditioned or heated rooms can cause dry eye sensations, and it is therefore best to limit time spent in these environments.3 This also applies to windy conditions, causing your eyes to become dry and sore. If you suffer from environment related dry eye sensations such as itchy or irritated eyes, you can use a humidifier to stop the air getting dry.2
- Prolonged digital activity can cause dry eye – take a break.
Take regular breaks to rest your eyes from digital screens.2 One technique in ensuring this is the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You can also compliment this by doing eye exercises.
- Use a lubricating eye drop to treat itchy or irritated eyes.
Use an eye drop.3 Eye drops can provide lubrication to the eye to relieve dry eye sensations. To find out more about dry eye drops and their benefits, visit www.visufarma.co.uk
- Moshirfar, M., West Jr., W B., and Marx, D P., ‘Face Mask-Associated Ocular Irritation and Dryness’, Ophthal Ther (2020) 9: 397-400.
- NHS Dry Eyes https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dry-eyes/ last accessed March 2021
- Centre of Ocular Research and Education https://core.uwaterloo.ca/news/core-alerts-practitioners-to-mask-associated-dry-eye-made/ last accessed March 2021