Doctors warn face masks can pose a risk of eye injury
Man scratches his cornea while taking off his face mask as doctors warn sharp edges of coverings could cause permanent eye damage
- A man, 51, scratched his eye after pulling off his face mask in Hong Kong
- He suffered a simple corneal abrasion which can lead to permanent damage
- Doctors have warned mask manufacturers to improve their products’ design
Face masks may pose a risk of eye injury, doctors have warned after a man tore his cornea while taking his covering off.
The unidentified 51-year-old, from Hong Kong, went to hospital after he scratched his eye while taking off his mask during his lunch break at work.
He accidentally caught his cornea — the clear front part of the eye — with the sharp edge of his surgical mask, leaving him in unbearable pain.
Doctors who treated him and used his case as a warning claim his scratch was only ‘superficial’ and he suffered no permanent vision damage.
Face masks may pose a risk of eye injury, doctors have warned, after a man tore the soft tissue of his eye while taking off his mask in Hong Kong. Pictured: A clinical photo of the man’s left eye after the injury. The scratch was stained green (outlined by red line) with fluorescein
But the team warned corneal abrasion — the medical term for the injury the man suffered.
Patients can suffer infections as a result of corneal scratches and, if left untreated, this can lead to permanent damage.
Writing in the Visual Journal of Emergency Medicine, Dr Sunny Chi Lik Au said the injury ‘serves as an important reminder’ about the potential dangers of masks.
They wrote the corners and corrugated side edges ‘are all potential sharp points that could lacerate the corneal surface’.
He also said the case should serve as a warning for manufacturers to improve their products’ design.
The man accidentally caught his cornea — the clear front part of the eye — with the sharp edge of his surgical mask, causing a searing pain and feeling of something in his eye
The man, treated at the Tung Wah Eastern Hospital, was given eye drops. His scratch healed in four days.
He returned to hospital for follow-up visits and tests revealed he had no permanent scarring on his cornea.
It comes as Dr Anthony Fauci yesterday claimed wearing two face masks could slow down the spread of coronavirus even more than just one – but experts say there isn’t enough proof.
Dr Fauci — the US Government’s top infectious diseases expert — claimed that it was ‘common sense’ that double-masking would be more effective.
He added it was likely to offer better protection against mutant strains, which studies show partially evades immunity from vaccines and past infections.
And Dr Benjamin Killingley, a scientist advising the UK Government in the pandemic, also said wearing two masks was ‘common sense’.
But Dr Killingley, a member of the SAGE advisory group, also admitted the claim isn’t ‘grounded in lots of study’.
WHAT HAVE STUDIES SHOWN ABOUT FACE MASKS AND COVID?
Research on how well various types of masks and face coverings protect against coronavirus has varied but experts and politicians have generally leaned towards the idea that the chance of some protection is better than none.
In the UK, face coverings were first made mandatory in for public transport in June and later for shops and other indoor spaces in July.
Here’s what studies have shown so far about whether masks work:
FACE MASKS LOWER VIRUS R RATE (JANUARY 2021)
Researchers at Boston University in the US found wearing face masks is an effective way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The study, published in the journal Lancet Digital Health, found a 10 per cent rise in self-reported mask wearing is associated with a three-fold increase in the odds of keeping the R number – the number of others each person with coronavirus infects – below 1.
Co-author of the study Ben Rader, of Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston University, said: ‘An important finding of this research is that mask wearing is not a replacement for physical distancing.’
INFECTIOUS DROPLETS WILL STILL SLIP THROUGH (DECEMBER 2020)
Scientists at New Mexico State University in the US found wearing a cloth mask may not shield the user totally from coronavirus because infected droplets can slip through, but it would significantly reduce how many.
‘Wearing a mask will offer substantial, but not complete, protection to a susceptible person,’ said Dr Krishna Kota, an associate professor at the university who led the research.
The study found while all masks blocked at least 95 per cent of droplets from coughs and sneezes – there was still a risk of the disease being passed on.
A MASK ‘WILL ALWAYS BE BETTER THAN NOTHING’ (DECEMBER 2020)
Research by the University of Massachusetts Lowell and California Baptist University in the US found wearing a used three-layer surgical mask can reduce the number of small droplets that are released into the air by two thirds.
Co-author Dr Jinxiang Xi said: ‘It is natural to think that wearing a mask, no matter new or old, should always be better than nothing.
‘Our results show that this belief is only true for particles larger than five micrometers, but not for fine particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers.’
MASK-WEARERS EQUALLY LIKELY TO CATCH VIRUS (NOVEMBER 2020)
A study by Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark suggested face masks may only offer the wearer limited protection against Covid infection.
Researchers found there was no statistically significant difference in the number of people who contacted the virus in a group wearing masks in public compared to a group that did not do so.
The study was carried out in April and May when Danish authorities did not recommend wearing face coverings.
MASK LEADS TO THOUSANDS FEWER COUGH DROPLETS (AUGUST 2020)
Research by Edinburgh University in Scotland suggested cloth face masks are effective at reducing the amount of droplets spread by coughing or sneezing.
The findings suggest a person standing two metres from someone coughing without a mask is exposed to 10,000 times more droplets than from someone standing half a metre away wearing a basic single layer mask.
Professor Paul Digard, of the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, said: ‘The simple message from our research is that face masks work.
‘Wearing a face covering will reduce the probability that someone unknowingly infected with the virus will pass it on.’
N95 MEDICAL MASKS COULD PREVENT 99% OF SPREAD (AUGUST 2020)
A study by Duke University in North Carolina, US, found N95 masks are the most effective masks at reducing the spread of Covid-19.
The research published in the journal Science Advances, studied 14 types of face coverings.
Co-author Dr Eric Westman said: ‘If everyone wore a mask, we could stop up to 99 percent of these droplets before they reach someone else.
‘In the absence of a vaccine or antiviral medicine, it’s the one proven way to protect others as well as yourself.’
SURGICAL COVERINGS JUST AS GOOD AS N95 MASKS (MARCH 2020)
A University of Oxford study published on March 30 last year concluded that surgical face masks are just as effective at preventing respiratory infections as N95 respirators for doctors, nurses and other health care workers.
N95 respirators are made of thick, tightly woven and moulded material that fits tightly over the face and can stop 95 percent of all airborne particles, while surgical masks are thinner, fit more loosely, and more porous.
The Oxford analysis of past studies – which has not yet been peer reviewed – found that surgical masks were worth wearing but any face mask is only as good as other health and hygiene practices.
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