To determine the effect of taping the top of face masks on air particle counts directed toward the eye during simulated intravitreal injections.
Prospective observational crossover study.
Thirteen healthy subjects were recruited. Each wore a cloth, surgical, or N95 mask in randomized order. The number of air particles were quantified using a particle counter suspended over the right eye while each subject breathed normally, deeply, or spoke using a standardized script. Particle counts were obtained with the top of each mask taped and untaped. The main outcome measurements were particle counts in the size classes of 0.3 μm, 0.5 μm, 1 μm, 3 μm, 5 μm, 10 μm, and total particle count.
Taping cloth masks while subjects were speaking significantly reduced particle counts for the size classes of 0.3 μm (p=0.03), 0.5 μm (p=0.01), 1 μm (p=0.03), and total particle counts (p=0.008) compared to no taping. Taping the top of cloth masks during normal or deep breathing did not significantly affect particle counts compared to no taping. Taping the top of surgical or N95 masks did not significantly alter particle counts for any breathing condition tested.
Taping the top of cloth masks prior to simulated intravitreal injections significantly reduced air particle counts directed toward the eye when subjects were speaking compared to no taping. This may have implications for decreasing air particles reaching the eye during intravitreal injections, including aerosolized droplets from a patient's mouth that may carry oral pathogens.