At Hayden Optometry in Mansfield, Dr. Joel Hayden deals with eye checks and styes, those annoying and sometimes painful little abscesses in the sebaceous glands, usually near the eyelash follicle.
Telltale signs of a stye include a tender little bump and lid tenderness.
“I see probably a week or more now where I haven’t done it before,” Hayden said.
He and an optometrist from Boston’s South End tell us they’ve seen more styes during the pandemic, and they think it’s due to mask-wearing:
“I saw one this morning, the patient wears a mask all day having a stye,” Hayden said.
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Doctors at Mass Eye and Ear, Harvard University Hospital, said they didn’t see a direct link between masks and styes, but Hayden said it was possible.
“One of the biggest things we’re probably seeing is dry eyes from the masks, because we’re breathing and all the air is going right up into our eyes,” he said.
Dryness may be the problem, he said: “My thought process is that it’s the dryness that causes those sebaceous glands to close, causing the stye.”
In a September article on how masks affect the eyes, the American Optometric Association did not discuss styes, but it did say masks caused increased dry eyes and eye irritation. .
After four members of Congress tested positive for the coronavirus after lawmakers took shelter from rioters on the US Capitol, President-elect Joe Biden lambasted members of Congress who refuse to wear masks. The president-elect also called the politicization of mask-wearing “stupid”.
Hayden said you can usually treat styes at home with a clean, warm compress, as well as artificial tears to moisten the eyes. In some cases, antibiotic eye drops are prescribed.
Hayden said they also see dry eyes of children and adults staring at computer screens for long periods of time.
He recommended wearing blue light blocking glasses.