Purchase this article with an account.
Daniel Choi, Elana Meer, Brian Jonathan Nguyen, Joan M O'Brien, Victoria M Addis, Paul J Tapino; Improvement in mask utilization with 3D-printed ear protectors. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(8):1752.
Download citation file:
© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Face masks have been associated with significant discomfort for health care workers. Face mask ear protectors (EP) may reduce discomfort by allowing ear loop masks to be worn without tension. In Ophthalmology, given the close proximity required for the exam, appropriate mask usage and fit is essential. There is evidence of higher COVID-19 disease burden in ophthalmology compared to other specialties. This study aims to assess how a simple, attachment may decrease discomfort and increase compliance in an academic institution’s Ophthalmology department.
EPs were distributed to the Ophthalmology department. A validated questionnaire was administered before and 2 weeks after EP usage, which surveyed demographics, likelihood of wearing a mask during select activities, and degree of mask usage (measured as number of times mask was removed/hour) during these activities. Descriptive statistics were performed with Fischer’s t test to assess for a change in face mask utilization pre- and post-EP distribution.
Although changes in mask usage post-EP were not statistically significant, post-EP responses demonstrated increased likelihood of mask usage across all activities. The greatest change was seen during outdoor activities with a 14.3% increase in those responding as “very likely” to wear a mask after using the EP. There was a 7.3% increase in responders who were likely to wear a mask in the workplace. EP decreased noncompliance while visiting friends. Nearly no subjects reported mask removal of >15 times/hr post-EP. 91.9% reported improved comfort, 91.9% improved fit, and 81.6% increased mask usage.
Our results suggest that simple 3D-printed EPs may improve fit, comfort, and overall mask compliance. This has potential implications not only for healthcare workers, but for the larger population as well. The statistical significance of this study may be limited due to the small subset of healthcare workers who were already high mask utilizers pre-EP, and thus may not truly appreciate the effect of EPs on the general population. The results of this study should drive broader public health efforts to further investigate whether mask attachments can improve overall mask compliance through better comfort and fit.
This is a 2021 ARVO Annual Meeting abstract.
Demonstration of mask usage with ear protector.
Percent of survey participants who identified as low, medium, or high mask utilizers during various activities, pre- and post-ear protector.
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only