Wearing masks increases risk of dry eye syndrome, says study – symptoms to spot

Omicron variant: Expert calls for mask wearing in enclosed spaces

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Dry eye syndrome is, as the name suggests, a condition where the eyes become dry.

Research published in the journal Scientific Reports has found mask wearing was associated with an increased risk of experiencing dry eye syndrome.

Such was the prevalence the condition was given a name, Mask-Associated Dry Eye or MADE for short.

The incidence of MADE was higher in those wearing glasses and contact lenses.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include eyes which are:
• Itchy
• Sore
• Gritty
• Red
• Blurry
• Sensitive to light
• More watery than normal.

The NHS says dry eyes are caused when the body can’t make enough tears or when the eyes dry up quickly.

As with other conditions a number of risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing the condition such as age, wearing contact lenses, looking at computer screens for a long time without a break, spending time in air conditioned, or heated environments.

Smoking or drinking alcohol can have an impact too.

As well as lifestyle habits, the natural environment can be influential as well.

If it is cold, windy, dusty, or dry a person is more likely to develop dry eyes.

Dry eyes can also be a side effect of certain medications such as antidepressants and blood pressure medications.

Furthermore, it can arise as a result of a more serious condition such as blepharitis, Sjogren’s syndrome, or lupus.

It may not necessarily be related to past mask wearing; a restriction that was swept away as part of the Government’s Living with Covid plan.

As part of the post-restriction strategy the Government wants to treat COVID-19 like other seasonal illness such as flu.

However, Covid isn’t seasonal.

Even though cases have been higher in the winter, hundreds of people have died every week during the warmer months.

Nevertheless, there is still hope for the future.

Recent ONS data showed cases dropped by a third in the week ending the 20th April.

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