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COVID-19 and mask-wearing causing eye problems in some patients, local optometrist says

Mask wearing can cause dry eye
A local optometrist says mask wearing and COVID-19 infections are causing eye problems for some people.
Posted at 7:39 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 19:51:10-05

MCCORDSVILLE — A local optometrist says he’s seeing patients with eye problems that stem from wearing a mask.

Dr. Chris Browning is an optometrist with Vision Quest Eye Care, which has locations throughout central Indiana.

“With masks, it's really causing a lot of people discomfort because of dryness,” said Browning. “It seals a respiratory system, so it contributes to a lot of dry eyes which is a huge problem and is uncomfortable and it only bothers you when you're breathing. It's a constant source of irritation for patients that can cause some real visual problems."

Browning said they can offer a variety of treatments beyond just prescribing eye drops.

A recent review in Ophthalmology and Therapy found:

  • Irritation of the ocular (eye) surface associated with mask use raises concerns for increased risk of disease transmission through the ocular route.
  • Patients wearing masks for extended periods may be more likely to experience these symptoms.
  • Eye protection and management of dryness and irritation is important consideration for long-term mask users.

COVID-19 is known for causing a cough and fever, but it’s also been linked to an increase in eye conditions like pink eye.

Browning explains some people with COVID-19 also develop problems with their eyes.

“What we've seen more than anything are people that have severe respiratory and cardiovascular problems associated with the disease have had problems inside the eye with the vascular system, because the eye is very vascular tissue,” said Browning. “If something impacts your cardiovascular system, in the end it's going to have the ability to affect your eyes and your vision. "

An analysis of 121 patients dating back to the beginning of the pandemic unveils COVID's most common effects on the eye including blood clots in the arteries of the retina and retinal hemorrhages.

COVID-19 eye problems include blurry vision and spots in your vision.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, certain people are more likely than others to develop these problems. People with the following conditions are at the greatest risk: