The COVID pandemic has forced us to change our lives in several unprecedented ways. Health experts have advised governments to mandate mask-wearing in most enclosed public venues and even in many outdoor settings. While numerous studies demonstrate that masks prevent the spread of COVID, many people are reluctant to wear them for other reasons, including:
- The politics of mask-wearing
- The inconvenience of wearing a mask everywhere
- The increased possibility of falling because of obstructed vision
The Southeastern Spine Institute can address the last reason. Despite their ability to reduce the transmission of the SARS-COV-2 virus, masks sometimes interfere with your downward vision, preventing you from identifying something that can trip you up. By following some simple safety precautions, you can minimize your risk of falling.
Do I Have to Keep My Head Up?
Without a mask, your normal peripheral vision allows you to see the ground beneath you. When that vision is blocked, you may try to compensate by looking down. This understandable tendency prevents you from planning a safe path in unfamiliar surroundings. Impaired people, like those relying on canes or walkers, are especially at risk of falling when looking down. You may find that:
- You don’t see the potential hazards in front of you
- Looking downward impairs your balance
- You lose the information provided by your peripheral vision
Keeping your head up and eyes focused forward integrates your body’s sensory inputs. It’s in your self-preservation instincts to maintain proper balance. When you lose that ability because you’re looking down all the time, you fail to stay safe during the pandemic.
How Can I Keep My Head Up with a Mask On?
While some people like disposable medical masks, others prefer the style and comfort of reusable cloth ones. If you prefer a cloth mask to stay safe during the pandemic, make sure that it’s the appropriate size for your face. Try to find one that contours to the shape of your nose.
If you like the traditional medical mask, wear it with the metal clamp towards the top and pinch it so that it fits tightly around the bridge of your nose. Not only does a well-fitted mask help prevent viral transmission, but it also improves your downward vision and reduces your risk of falling.
How Can I Stay Safe During the Pandemic?
Mask-wearing can be especially difficult if you wear glasses. Much of your exhaled breath gets directed upward toward your eyes. The warm air causes your glasses to fog up, and your reduced vision may result in a fall.
You can reduce the fogging of your glasses by washing them with soapy water. It leaves behind a thin film that prevents fog build-up. Another simple method to stay safe during the pandemic and maintain your sightlines is to use your glasses to seal the top of your mask. This prevents your warm breath from rising into your lenses and fogging them.
Do I Have to Slow Down?
Perhaps the best way to avoid falling and to stay safe during the pandemic is to take your time. COVID has interrupted the economy, giving us all a chance to slow down the pace of life. Take advantage of the additional time on your hands. You don’t need to rush.
COVID-19 won’t last forever. While it lasts, wear your masks to help stop the transmission, and take your time getting around to avoid any missteps and stay safe during the pandemic. If you have any other questions, call your doctor at the Southeastern Spine Institute for a recommendation of the best mask to wear to suit your particular needs.