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Masks and eyes and corneal infections

Mask wearing is increasing significantly due to COVID-19 and influenza. Mask mandates are present in some situations. Mask wearing has some effects on vision.

If you wear spectacles the most obvious effect of mask wearing is fogging of the glasses, especially when coming from cold outdoor to warm indoors. If you wear contact lenses, mask wearing may increase dry eye by diverting exhaled air up over your eye. Happily however there has been no increase found in infections of the eye related to contact lens wear in those also needing to wear masks. Therefore mask wearing is not a risk factor for infection of the eye.

The most common risk factors identified for infection of the eye’s cornea (the clear dome over the front of the eye and coloured iris and pupil), known as microbial keratitis, remain:

  • Contact lenses (41%)
  • Previous eye trauma (12%)
  • Current or previous corneal ulcers (9%)
  • Diabetes (8%)