Bacterial Funnel Caused by Masks

Dear Friends:     In the November 2021 edition of “Review of Optometry,” an article “Beneath the Mask: OSD Issues Spike Due to Improper Wear” details the many problems caused by masks.  Without a tight seal between the skin and the mask, there is a bacterial funnel and abnormal air flow to the eyes. This causes dry eye, hordeolum (stye), blepharitis, recurrent corneal erosions, corneal abrasions, and bacterial conjunctivitis (infection). When I shared this information with my optometry colleagues, they all reported an increase in all these eye conditions since COVID!  

Cloth masks do NOT have an appropriate seal.  N95, KN95, and surgical masks are far better, but should be discarded every 2-4 hours and definitely every day!  If you must wear a mask all day, please use “antiseptic mouthwash containing hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or povidone iodine to reduce bacterial load and decrease the likelihood of masked breathing patterns altering the normal flora of the eyelids and periorbital region.”  Also, brush your teeth several times a day. If you experience mask-induced eye problems, you should consider the use of hypoallergenic, surgical tape over the top of the mask to minimize the bacterial funnel. Hypochlorous eyelid spray, which is available in our office, should be used daily.

We are finding that the masks fog up the instruments used during the eye examination.  Communication is more difficult and not being able to breathe properly can get very uncomfortable.  Even so, in light of the most recent public health order, we will require masks in our office!   We will continue to take temperatures, reschedule anyone with a fever, and have everyone wash their hands.    

Remember that if you are older than 65, overweight, and have medical conditions such as cancer, lung disease, kidney disease, liver disease, dementia, heart disease, and a weakened immune system, you are at greater risk of severe illness and death due to COVID.  Healthy diet and exercise, weight loss, and building up natural immunity go a long way in the fight against COVID.  I personally feel that there has been too much emphasis on vaccines and masks, and not enough on prevention and early treatment, which are far more cost effective and better for long term health! I see people all the time who anxiously depend on vaccines and masks, which have short-term, limited effectivity as well as risks, but do absolutely nothing about their high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. In this new year, please make your overall health a priority and resolve to do everything you can to take better care of yourself.

Sincerely,   Lisa Shin, O.D.

Contact me:   505-662-9681             

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