Wearing a face mask has become the new normal. It is the first line of defence to prevent the spread of infectious COVID-19. But face masks come with some not-so-great side effects like maskne, dental issues, and breathlessness. Now, there’s a new addition to this list: mask-associated eye irritation. If you have noticed a burning sensation in your eyes after wearing a mask for a long time then you are not alone. After the foggy eyes, people are coming to the ophthalmologists with this new problem of eye irritation and dryness. What leads to dry eyes – The eye problem is prominently caused by wearing the mask incorrectly. When your mask is ill-fitted or your nose is exposed, the warm exhaled air goes through the top of the mask and dries the eyes. This can easily dry your natural tears, cause eye inflammation, and increase oxidative stress. Earlier, people complained about the problem of foggy glasses, which caused mild irritation for a time. This newly emerged problem is more complex than that. Besides, there are other eye problems that have been diagnosed in people due to prolonged usage of masks like bacterial eyelid infections, corneal damage, allergy-like irritation from detergents on the mask and styes from clogged tear ducts. As per another theory, eye irritation can also be due to pandemic related stress and anxiety. If you too are suffering from any eye-related health concerns then here are few ways to protect your eyes. Wear the mask properly – The hot air exhaled from your nose can easily bother your eyes, leading to dryness and irritation. The first thing you should do is to fix your mask properly. Masks are only effective when they are worn properly. If you leave the space or cover only the mouth, then it would not only increase the risk of infection, but can also be problematic for your eyes. Make sure your nose and mouth are properly covered. Look for any space left uncovered with your mask and adjust your mask accordingly. Buy mask of breathable material that fits well – There are different types of masks available in the market. Always buy the one made of breathable material and it should fit you perfectly. If your mask is too big and touches your eyes, then cornea scratches and irritation are normal. If the material is stiff, wash it a few times to soften it. Also, be careful when you put on and remove your mask, Make sure it does not touch your eyes. Do not avoid the discomfort – If you experience any kind of irritation or discomfort, do not brush it under the rug. In the case of styes, dry eyes or irritation, use some over-the-counter lubricating drops. Looking at digital screens for a prolonged period may even lead to the symptoms of eye strain. Take regular breaks from digital screens to prevent this. If the problem continues meet your doctor. Do not touch your eyes – While adjusting your mask do not touch your eyes. The warm air exhaled from the nose might make you feel uncomfortable, but in an impulse to touch your face or eyes. Our hand contains different kinds of bacteria, which may be transferred to the eyes, causing irritation and dryness. So, keep your hands away from your face. Apply warm compress on eyes – You can also use a warm compress to soothe your eye irritation. Dampen a clean cloth or flannel with warm water and place it on your closed eyelids for a few minutes. The warmth of the water can help stimulate your tear glands in the eyelids to produce more liquid and oil to help keep your eye lubricated.