Purpose: To test the hypothesis that various subjective ocular and task-related parameters associated with wearing a face mask would be better in neophyte contact lens (CL) wear compared to habitual spectacle (Sp) wear.
Methods: Thirty participants were randomised to continue in Sp (n = 15) or wear somofilcon A daily disposable CL (n = 15) (‘group’). A surgical face mask (Type II R) was worn for at least one hour per day on four or more days per week. After two weeks, participants completed the Quality of Life Impact of Refractive Correction Questionnaire (QIRC), a two-part face mask usability questionnaire and graded ocular-related symptoms using 0–100 visual analogue scales.
Results: There was no difference between groups for overall QIRC score but some individual question scores reflected better quality of life in the CL: ‘outdoor activities’, ‘keep fit’ and ‘able to do things’ (all p < 0.05). Differences in favour of the CL were seen for the following in the face mask usability questionnaire: ‘breathing’, ‘heat’, ‘comfort on ears’, ‘overall comfort’, ‘walking’, ‘driving’, ‘reading’, ‘computer use’, ‘exercising’ and ‘socialising’ (all p < 0.05). Significant differences were also seen for the 0–100 VAS symptoms probing vision quality in favour of the CL: glare, distance and near vision, fogging, restricted field of view and peripheral blur. Conclusion: This work supports anecdotal reports that CL are a better vision correction option than Sp when used in conjunction with a face mask. Participants reported a range of benefits to the CL/face mask combination for vision-related symptoms, breathing and heat-related symptoms and a number of day-to-day activities including walking, driving and exercising. All of the benefits relating to the CL are likely to result in improved adherence to face mask use. Overall, the findings of this work suggest that where possible, CL should be the preferred vision correction option for people using face masks.