Vol.49 No.1 Original Research PDF

A Comparative Analysis of Ocular Surface Parameters Before and After N95 Face Mask Use Among Healthcare Workers

Cathleen Joyce Q. Villafuerte MD-MBA, Maria Cecilia Gertrudis C. Agdeppa MD, DPBO, Keshia Lourdes L. Duyongco-Lenon MD-MBA, DPBO, Cristina Angelica A. Tan MD-MBA, DPBO

The Medical City Eye and Vision Institute, The Medical City, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City, Philippines

Correspondence: Cathleen Joyce Q. Villafuerte, MD-MBA
Clinic Address: The Medical City Eye and Vision Institute, 4th floor, Nursing Tower, The Medical City, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City
Clinic Number: +639178002532
E-mail Address: villafuerte.cq@gmail.com

Disclosure: The authors report no conflict of interest.


Objectives: This study determined whether the use of an N95 face mask was associated with changes in ocular surface parameters and dry eye symptomatology among healthcare workers with no baseline dry eye disease.

Methodology: This was a prospective, analytical, quasi-experimental study. The ocular surface and dry eye symptomatology of 33 healthcare workers (n=66 eyes) were evaluated at baseline and 3 hours after use of 3MTM VFlexTM Particulate Respirator 9105 N95 mask (3M, Minnesota, USA). The following parameters were measured: ocular surface disease index (OSDI), tear break-up time (TBUT), tear break-up pattern (TBUP), non-invasive TBUT (NIKBUT), tear meniscus height (TMH), meibography, and bulbar conjunctival redness.

Results: Among all the parameters tested, only OSDI and bulbar redness showed significant changes when pre-N95 and post-N95 values were compared. Although each was interpreted as normal, the median OSDI score improved from 7 to 1 (p < 0.001). Median bulbar conjunctival redness score worsened from 0.9 to 1.1 (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Among healthcare workers with no dry eye disease, the use of the 3MTM VflexTM Particulate Respirator 9105 N95 mask was not associated with changes in TBUT, TBUP, NIKBUT, TMH, and meibogaphy. An improvement of dry eye symptoms was reported after VFlexTM mask use.

Keywords: COVID-19; dry eye; face mask; mask-related dry eye; ocular surface