Purpose: To investigate the characteristics of mask wearing and the effect of masks on visual symptoms and clinical measurements in a sample of ophthalmic patients in Ghana.
Methods: A clinic-based cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted among ophthalmic patients who visited two primary care eye clinics in the Central Region of Ghana. Participants included 71 randomly sampled patients aged 18 years and above and consented to take part in the study. Their mean ages (SD) was 36.94±17.46 and they were made up of 27(38%) males and 44(62%) females. The patients responded to symptoms assessment questionnaire before their visual acuity (VA) for distance and near and IOPs with and without their face masks were measured.
Results: The majority 45(63.4%) of the patients’ used fabric masks and 25(35.2%) reported ocular problems with the use of the masks. Of those who observed ocular problems, 8(32%) observed problems with the use of spectacles, and 5(20%) also observed problems with their vision. The mean difference in distance VA with and without face mask for the right eye was 0.08(0.36) and left eye was 0.05(0.25) MAR, indicating slight aberrations in vision. Mean differences in measurements with and without face masks were not statistically significantly different ( P < 0.05). A higher proportion of persons wearing KN95 experience nausea or headaches (ꭓ=18.610, p<0.001) and discomfort of wearing of nose mask (ꭓ=7.803, p=0.020). None of those wearing a fabric face mask reported of difficulty in accurately reaching for objects with the nose mask on. (ꭓ= 8.664, p=0.13).
Conclusion: Face masks may exacerbate oculo-visual symptoms in ophthalmic patients, which practitioners must pay attention to.