• Cornea/External Disease, Refractive Mgmt/Intervention

    Review of: Impact of taping the upper mask edge on ocular surface stability and dry eye symptoms

    Nair S, Kaur M, Sah R, et al. American Journal of Ophthalmology, June 2022

    Mask-associated dry eye disease has emerged in occupations such as healthcare, and in patients with pre-existing eye disease, as a result of prolonged mask wearing. This study aimed to test the theory that poor fit at the mask’s upper edge allows leakage of air toward the ocular surface.

    Study design

    This prospective study included 50 healthcare workers who wore an N95 mask without taping the upper edge. After an 8-hour shift, the researchers assessed ocular surface parameters, subjective dry eye score, and visual acuity. The same assessment was performed the next day after the workers wore masks with tape at the upper edge. The primary outcome was noninvasive tear break-up time (NIBUT).

    Outcomes

    Post-taping, significantly better ocular surface stability was observed. Without tape, the workers had a mean NIBUT of 9.94 seconds. After wearing the mask with tape for an entire shift, the NIBUT was 11.22 seconds.

    Limitations

    The study is interesting but limited to N95 use. It would be interesting to understand the impact of masking and taping in the general population as it relates to preoperative cataract and refractive screening.

    Clinical significance

    Documenting the use of masking may be important in evaluating for dry eye. Taping of the upper mask edge resulted in significantly better ocular surface stability, which correlated well with a decrease in dry eye symptoms. As the practice of regularly using face masks continues without a foreseeable end, the use of taping can help mitigate dry eye disease especially in professions that require continuous use for long periods of time.