Could Glasses Protect Against COVID-19?

Wearing spectacles may lower your chances of contracting the coronavirus, according to a new study from Hubei Province, China. The findings appeared in JAMA Ophthalmology, a medical journal. But does this mean everyone should wear eye protection to prevent COVID-19? Not exactly, says ophthalmologist Thomas Steinemann, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a professor of ophthalmology at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Ophthalmologists say there’s not enough information to recommend that people start wearing eye protection in addition to masks.

“It’s a provocative and fascinating study. But in the scheme of things, this is a small portion of the population. We’d require a much larger study before making any conclusions about whether wearing glasses really does mean people are touching their eyes less often, and therefore decreasing infection rates,” Dr. Steinemann said.

Coronavirus can spread through the eyes when an infected person coughs or sneezes near your eye or if you touch an infected object before touching your eye.

A possible link between spectacles and the coronavirus

The study came from a curious observation made by researchers in China. They noticed that very few of their sick patients wore glasses, which was remarkable since nearsightedness is common in China. They examined hospital records from patients with Covid-19 to learn more. Of 276 patients admitted to the hospital over a 47-day period, only 16 patients (5.8%) had myopia or nearsightedness that required them to wear glasses for more than eight hours a day.

Earlier research shows that more than 30% of people in the region needed glasses for nearsightedness.

Dr. Steinemann says it could be that glasses serve as a reminder to avoid touching your eyes. It may also be that glasses act as a partial barrier, protecting eyes from the splatter of a cough or sneeze. There are several factors other than wearing glasses that could explain the study’s finding. It could be that people who wear glasses tend to be older and more likely to stay home during the pandemic, compared with people who do not wear glasses. Or maybe people who can afford glasses in China are less likely to contract the virus because they can afford to live in less-crowded spaces.

Should you wear eye protection to prevent COVID-19?

While it’s too soon to say everyone should wear eye protection, Dr. Steinemann said that wearing goggles or face shields does make sense for frontline health care workers and people who care for those with the virus. For the rest of us, wearing a mask, frequent hand washing and practicing social distancing continue to be our best bet against the virus.

Source: www.aao.org/eye-health/news/eyeglasses-protect-against-covid-19-coronavirus


Why face masks can make eyes feel dry, and what you can do about it

Face masks help reduce coronavirus transmission, which has prompted mandates and expert recommendations for their use where social distancing is difficult. As the world emerges from shutdowns, wearing face masks for extended periods of time in settings such as offices will increase.

While these protective measures are essential to combating COVID-19’s spread, a new phenomenon is emerging: increasing reports of dry, uncomfortable eyes. What is the science behind this trend, who is at risk and is there a solution?

Dry eye has become much better understood in recent years, thanks to colleagues from the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo, the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society and other researchers around the world. That knowledge provides a head start on deciphering this latest wrinkle.

Making sense of MADE: Mask-associated dry eye

The term mask-associated dry eye (MADE) was first described by an ophthalmologist in June based on increasing incidents in his office. Additional reports have since circulated, and a recent review further examined the issue.

People with existing dry eye disease report worsening symptoms — a problematic occurrence for the tens of millions of people worldwide who already struggle with the issue. Concurrently, previously asymptomatic patients are flagging uncomfortable eyes and variable vision for the first time, particularly when reading or using digital devices for a long period of time.

Our tear film’s delicate balance

When addressing MADE, it is helpful to understand our tear film, the liquid layer that coats the eye’s surface. This tiny volume of fluid, equivalent to one-tenth of a single water drop, has a highly complex structure and composition. It lubricates the surface of the eye, allowing smooth and comfortable passage of the eyelid during every blink. Ongoing imbalance in the tear film leads to dry eye disease.

Eyes feel sore, dry and irritated, and may water and look red.

A sore, irritated, uncomfortable dry eye. (Shutterstock)

There are many causes of dry eye disease, including issues relating to eye and systemic health conditions, age, gender or medications. Excessive use of digital devices, poor indoor air quality and pollution all result in symptoms. Situations that increase how quickly the tear film evaporates, such as air-conditioned offices or automobile air-blowers, can quickly and significantly dry the eye’s surface, leading to more pronounced symptoms.

Masks, airflow and evaporation

 

Face masks significantly reduce the spread of air outwards from the mouth and nose. However, exhaled air still needs to disperse; when a mask sits loosely against the face the likely route is upwards. This forces a stream of air over the surface of the eye, creating conditions that accelerate the evaporation of the tear film, like a steady breeze blowing over damp skin.

People who wear glasses are well aware of this, shown by the annoying lens fogging that often occurs when breathing under a mask.

Annoying, fogged-up spectacles due to a poor fitting mask. (Chau-Minh Phan/CORE, University of Waterloo), Author provided

When masks are worn for extended periods, this repeated evaporation may lead to dry spots on the ocular surface.

Similar effects have been reported with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks that are used to treat sleep apnea. Eye dryness may also result when face masks are taped to seal the top edge, if that interferes with the eyelids’ natural movement, preventing full blinks. Incomplete blinking can cause the tear film to become less stable.

Who may be affected?

In addition to those with pre-existing dry eye disease, the general mask-wearing population may find themselves wondering why their eyes are inexplicably irritated. This includes the elderly, who naturally have less efficient tears.

An extensive review demonstrated that wearing contact lenses does not raise the risk of contracting COVID-19, as long as people follow good hygiene and cleaning measures. However, a contact lens can disturb the tear film, potentially making wearers more MADE-susceptible if exhaled air further impacts tear film stability.

Prolonged use of face masks in air-conditioned locations may also trigger MADE. So too could increased digital device use while wearing masks — a rising trend during the pandemic.

Beyond discomfort, MADE presents another risk: it may encourage people to rub their face and eyes for temporary relief. Coronavirus transmission is possible via the mouth and nose, and, to a lesser extent, potentially the eyes. Bringing unwashed hands near the face may increase the likelihood of infection. That is an additional reason to tackle MADE.

Alleviating MADE
Several simple measures can help reduce the drying effects of upward air flow from masks.

Mask Associated Dry Eye (MADE): Why does it happen and what can you do? (Karen Walsh, CORE, University of Waterloo), Author provided

As with any new eye-related concern, first check with an eye care practitioner for advice and to rule out other causes.

Second, ensure that a mask is worn appropriately, particularly when wearing spectacles and sunglasses. A close-fitted mask, or carefully taped top edge that does not interfere with blinking, may help direct air flow downwards. This helps prevent lenses from steaming and reduces MADE.

Clear spectacles with a well fitting mask. (Chau-Minh Phan/CORE, University of Waterloo), Author provided

Lubricating drops may help with comfort. Eye care practitioners can recommend the best type, based on medical history and circumstances.

Limit time in air-conditioned or windy environments when wearing masks, and take regular breaks from digital devices.

Don’t ditch the mask

Is wearing a mask worth it, when you may have to possibly contend with MADE? Absolutely! Masks are here for the foreseeable future. Along with social distancing and hygiene measures, they represent a crucial part of our defence against the spread of COVID-19.

The good news is that we understand why MADE occurs and can address it. Remaining alert and following a few simple steps can help increase eye comfort and promote good mask wear, and with it, we move further along in overcoming the global pandemic.

Source:

conversation.com

Author
Lyndon Jones
Professor, School of Optometry & Vision Science, University of Waterloo


Wearing a face mask? Here are 6 ways to avoid foggy glasses

While face masks help us avoid unknowingly transmitting coronavirus, millions of eyeglass wearers are discovering the nuisance of mask-induced foggy lenses.

With the World Health Organization (WHO) now recommending the wearing of face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19, fogged-up glasses are a problem “affecting a large chunk of the population,” says Chicago optometrist Joanna Slusky, founder and CEO of Halsted Eye Boutique.

What can you do about your fogged-up glasses?

We have compiled seven tips for lifting the fog from your glasses when you’re wearing a mask, but first let’s go over why your lenses are fogging up in the first place.

Why are my glasses foggy?
Body heat and air flow lead to foggy lenses, explains optician Shannen Knight, owner of A Sight for Sport Eyes, an eyewear retailer based in West Linn, Oregon.

When you’re wearing a face mask, you repeatedly breathe out warm air. This air then can sneak out of the top of your mask and steam up the lenses of your glasses. Of course, this can make it difficult to see.

According to a study published in The Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England, a face mask directs much of the exhaled air upward.

The “misting” of lenses happens when warm water vapor from your breath lands on the cooler lenses, producing tiny droplets that scatter light and reduce the lenses’ ability to transmit contrast (when light colors remain light and dark colors remain dark).

“The droplets form because of the inherent surface tension between the water molecules,” the study’s authors said.

6 ways to avoid foggy glasses

Now that you know why your lenses fog up, let’s review seven ways to prevent this fog when you’re wearing glasses and a face mask.

  1.  Seal the mask

A common trick employed by doctors involves sticking a piece of double-sided tape across the bridge of the nose before putting on a mask, says Shaun Veran, co-founder of OURA. OURA’s wellness products include reusable, antibacterial face masks.

“If you place the double-sided tape between the inside of the mask and the bridge of your nose, it will create a better seal,” Veran says. “You can also place an additional piece of cellophane or masking tape over the mask as well.”

2. Make sure the mask fits well

A loose-fitting mask lets exhaled air head toward your glasses, but a snugly fitting mask can shoot that air out of the bottom or sides of the mask and away from your glasses.

For a better fit, Veran recommends looking for masks equipped with moldable pieces around the nose (such as a metal strip) or masks that come in various sizes.

“If the mask is well-fitted, it will dramatically help to prevent the amount of hot air that can reach the lenses,” Veran advises.

“Make sure that your face mask has a snug fit around the nose bridge,” he adds. “The more conformed the mask is around the bridge of your nose, the less of that hot air will end up hitting your lenses.”

If you’ve crafted your own cloth mask, create a seal around the nose by inserting a moldable item into the upper part of the mask, Slusky says. This could be a paper clip, pipe cleaner, twist tie or folded piece of aluminum foil.

Looking for more advice on how to properly wear your face mask? The CDC details how to make a face mask (and how to clean it afterward).

3. Adjust your glasses

If your glasses have nose pads, you can tweak the pads so that the frames sit slightly farther from your face, Knight says.

“This will allow that hot air to escape instead of getting trapped between your face and the lenses of the glasses,” she says.

Knight cautions that altering the nose pads may slightly change your vision if you wear glasses with progressive lenses or lenses with a strong prescription. If that happens, you might need to hold your head at a different angle to compensate for the vision change, she says.

4. Try de-fogging products

Applying over-the-counter anti-fogging sprays, waxes and gels to your lenses before putting on your glasses can quickly disperse tiny fog droplets when you’re wearing a mask, Knight says.

“Some work better with different body chemistry, so you may need to try a few brands to see which one works best for you,” she says.

She warns against using anti-fogging products designed for cars or other purposes, as they might ruin your prescription lenses.

Ask us about the anti-fog wipes we stock in practice.

5. Breathe downward

Well, it might be awkward, but breathing downward can be a quick ant-fog fix, Slusky says. This sends the air away from your glasses.

How do you breathe downward? Hold your upper lip over your lower lip. Then blow air downward, as if you’re playing a flute.

6. Check out anti-fog lenses

This won’t fix your foggy-lens problem right away, but you might consider buying lenses with an anti-fog coating. (such as Optifog lenses) An anti-fog coating gives you a hassle-free answer to foggy lenses, regardless of whether the obstructed vision is triggered by a face mask or something else.

orignal source:

allaboutvision.com/en-gb/coronavirus/avoid-foggy-glasses-face-mask/

article edited


Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

 

The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Government advice designed to keep us safe is under constant review and will be different depending on where you live: more details and up to date information here.
Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current coronavirus (COVID-19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times.

Here are some tips we hope will help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.

Looking after your mental health as lockdown eases

Across the nations of the UK, lockdown is easing in different ways and at different times. As we begin to come out of lockdown many of us are faced with both challenges and opportunities.

Within social distancing guidelines, we may be able to see friends and family in person, play sport or return to work.

However, many of us may find even these longed-for changes difficult for our mental health. The idea of coming out of lockdown when the scientific debate is ongoing may also be worrying for those of us who are more at risk from the virus or living with mental health problems.

If this is something you are struggling with, read our tips on dealing with fear and anxiety as lockdown eases and coping with uncertainty.

People who are shielding – asked to still stay at home

For people who are shielding not much has changed. Lockdown still applies, with some ability to increase exercise, and to get outside with social distancing. For these groups in particular it might be difficult to see their lives returning to anything like ‘normal’ for a much longer time. As other people come out of lockdown the impact of lockdown on those who are shielding may become even greater.

As different at risk and shielding groups are told they are able to resume activities, people will need to make assessments of how safe things feel for them, and how they balance the risk to their wellbeing of remaining locked down against the risk of getting the virus if they resume activities.

Looking after your mental health while you have to stay at home

More of us will be spending a lot of time at home and many of our regular social activities will no longer be available to us.

It will help to try and see it as a different period in your life, and not necessarily a bad one, even if you didn’t choose it.

It will mean a different rhythm of life, a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual. Be in touch with other people regularly on social media, e-mail or on the phone, as they are still good ways of being close to the people who matter to you.

Create a new daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself. You could try reading more or watching movies, having an exercise routine, trying new relaxation techniques, or finding new knowledge on the internet. Try and rest and view this as a new if unusual experience, that might have its benefits.

Make sure your wider health needs are being looked after such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.

Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak

Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control.

Follow hygiene advice such as washing your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds with soap and hot water (sing ‘happy birthday’ to yourself twice to make sure you do this for 20 seconds). You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food. If you can’t wash your hands straightaway, use hand sanitiser and then wash them at the next opportunity.

You should also use tissues if you sneeze and make sure you dispose of them quickly; and stay at home if you are feeling unwell.

Try to stay connected

The way we are able to connect to others is changing, but this is happening at a different pace depending on who you are and where you live. Advice is significantly different if you are shielding, and you still need to take extra care if you have a long-term physical health condition, are pregnant or aged over 70.

There is a summary of how you can connect here

At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, by telephone, email or social media, or contact a helpline for emotional support.

You may like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to:

  • stress management
  • keep active
  • eat a balanced diet

Stay in touch with friends on social media but try not to sensationalise things. If you are sharing content, use this from trusted sources, and remember that your friends might be worried too.

Also remember to regularly assess your social media activity. Tune in with yourself and ask if they need to be adjusted. Are there particular accounts or people that are increasing your worry or anxiety? Consider muting or unfollowing accounts or hashtags that cause you to feel anxious.

Talk to your children

Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm.

We need to minimise the negative impact it has on our children and explain the facts to them. Discuss the news with them but try and avoid over-exposure to coverage of the virus. Be as truthful as possible.

Let’s not avoid the ‘scary topic’ but engage in a way that is appropriate for them. We have more advice on talking with your children about the coronavirus outbreak.

Try to anticipate distress

It is OK to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you are shielding, have a long-term physical health condition or fall into one of the other groups that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.

It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking, drinking and overeating.

Try and reassure people you know who may be worried and check in with people who you know are living alone.

Try not to make assumptions

Don’t judge people and avoid jumping to conclusions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The coronavirus can affect anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sex.

Try to manage how you follow the outbreak in the media

There is extensive news coverage about the outbreak. If you find that the news is causing you huge stress, it’s important to find a balance.

It’s best that you don’t avoid all news and that you keep informing and educating yourself, but limit your news intake if it is bothering you.

Source:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak