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Leonardo Mastropasqua, Manuela Lanzini, Lorenza Brescia, Rossella D'Aloisio, Mario Nubile, Marco Ciancaglini, Claudio D'Amario, Luca Agnifili, Rodolfo Mastropasqua; Face Mask-Related Ocular Surface Modifications During COVID-19 Pandemic: A Clinical, In Vivo Confocal Microscopy, and Immune-Cytology Study. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2021;10(3):22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.10.3.22.
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The purpose of this study was to describe the face mask (FM)-related ocular surface changes using clinical tests, in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) and impression cytology (IC), and to investigate the Dry Eye-related Quality of life Score (DEQS).
Sixty-six patients with dry eye disease (DED) and 62 healthy subjects (group 2) using FM were enrolled. Groups were divided into: groups 1A and 2A: < 3 hours of FM wear; groups 1B and 2B: 3 to 6 hours; and groups 1C and 2C: > 6 hours. Patients underwent DEQS questionnaire, break-up time (BUT), Schirmer test I (STI), fluorescein and lissamine staining (FS and LS), IVCM to determine corneal dendritic cell density (DCD) and goblet cell density (GCD), and IC to measure HLA-DR, at baseline and after 3 months.
FM use duration before enrollment was 27 ± 2.3 and 30 ± 4.1 (days ± SD) for groups 1 and 2 (P > 0.05). After 3 months, DEQS worsened in groups 1B and 1C, STI in groups 1A to 1C, FS and LS in group 1C (P < 0.05); in controls, BUT and FS worsened only in group 2C (P < 0.05). DCD significantly increased in groups 1A to 1C and HLA-DR in groups 1B and 1C (P < 0.05), whereas GCD did not significantly change. DCD and HLA-DR increased only in group 2C (P < 0.05). DEQS significantly correlated with DCD (P = 0.05, r = 0.698; P < 0.001, r = 0.832) and HLA-DR (P = 0.043, r = −0.687; P < 0.001, r = 0.861) at baseline and 3 months.
Use of FM increases ocular surface inflammation and negatively impacts the quality of life in patients with DED.
The study of the prolonged use of FM effects may be relevant to managing DED.
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