Surgery face Shields have always been a part of hospital protocol, but how has their adoption been received outside the medical settings? On news, social media the prevalence of masks has risen with cases but the use of face shields has remained niche despite supporting evidence from JAMA Ophthalmology and an honorable mention from the CDC. Because n95 masks filter out particulate matter in the air, there is a risk of droplets impacting the wearers’ eyes, increasing infection risk.
Surgery masks protect against droplets whereas an n95 filters particulates.
How do Face Shields protect from Coronavirus?
Unlike face masks that protect the nose and mouth, shields may also keep the virus from entering through the eyes. Researchers at JAMA Ophthalmology found that people who wear glasses daily are less susceptible to coronavirus.1 Because of this research, it suggests that face shields may provide comparable protection. Since the coronavirus can spread through droplets, covering potential areas of infection can protect you.2 A face shield along with a disposable mask may offer maximum protection.
Shields cover more of the face than masks, so infected droplets are less likely to land anywhere near your eyes, mouth or nose.
Face Shields protect against Infectious Droplets
Shields block droplets, which are larger particles that drop to the floor due to gravity, but not aerosols, smaller particles that may linger in the air when exhaled during a dental procedure or intubation.
A face shield can be a good option for additional coverage. Eye protection could result in a large reduction in virus infections and provides additional protection to mask wearers. In health care settings, eye protection has shown to reduce risk compared with no eye protection, but more evidence is needed.
Do you need a mask with a shield?:
Guidance is to use face shields in conjunction with face masks until more research is available. Droplets can go out the side of shields and risk infection.
Face Shields can be easier to wear for prolonged periods, especially for those with breathing problems. Shields can help stop the outbreak, and are less restrictive than face masks.
It makes sense to pair shields with masks for added protection for medical professionals, first responders, service workers, personal trainers, barbers, dentists, and others who work closely with people.
How to choose the best Face Shields:
- Waterproof, clear plastic material
- Shield extends below the chin and reaches to the ears
- Ideally a wrap-around design to minimize exposure out the sides
- Fits without gaps at the forehead
Tate is a contributing author at Harmony Lab & Safety Supplies. Tate values thoughtful research, insightful writing, and a good Oxford comma.