Blepharoconjunctivitis and Otolaryngological Disease Trends in the Context of Mask Wearing during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Victoria A. Koshevarova, Zack K. Westenhaver, Mary Schmitz-Brown, Brian J. McKinnon, Kevin H. Merkley, Praveena K. Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

(1) Purpose: In 2020, wearing of face masks was mandated in the United States in an effort to lessen transmission of the novel 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic; however, long-term mask wearing may present with unintended side-effects in both ophthalmic and otolaryngologic clinical practice. This study aims to examine if mask wearing increased the incidence of primarily chalazion, blepharoconjunctivitis, and rhinitis occurrence during the mask-mandated COVID-19 pandemic period. (2) Methods: Medical records from tertiary academic center clinics were analyzed for incidence of ophthalmic and otolaryngologic diagnoses of interest (blepharoconjunctivitis-and rhinitis-related disorders). Data were collected from a pre-pandemic (March 2019–February 2020) and a mid-pandemic window (March 2020–February 2021) during which widespread mask mandates were implemented in Texas. Comparison was performed using a t-test analysis between incidence of chosen diagnoses during the described time periods. (3) Results: Incidence of ophthalmic disorders (primarily blepharoconjunctivitis and chalazion) in the pre-pandemic versus mid-pandemic windows did show a significant difference (p-value of 0.048). Similarly, comparison of otolaryngologic diagnoses (primarily rhinitis and related conditions) between the two time periods showed a significant difference (p-value of 0.044) as well. (4) Conclusion: Incidence of the chosen ophthalmic and otolaryngologic disorders did increase during periods of mask mandates. While these findings are preliminary, further studies are warranted to understand other factors that may have played a role in eye and nose pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-627
Number of pages9
JournalClinics and Practice
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • blepharitis
  • chalazion
  • mask
  • rhinitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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