Most people recognise that face masks including KN95, iiR and FFP2 are commonly worn by people caring for sufferers of COVID-19. Usually in hospitals on TV, staff go a stage further and wear a face shield or face visor as well as well as part of their protection regime. This short article outlines the benefits of visors and shields to give you more background information.
Full face shields are likely to become the PPE item of choice as restrictions slowly begin to loosen and people get back to work. They are likely to be more popular for a variety of reasons. The first and most common reference to face shields and visors in the medical workplace is the added protection to the eyes and face to prevent micro droplets carrying the virus landing directly on a person. Not only does this prevent them becoming infected but it also suppresses coughs and sneezes.
Visors and shields can be reused too, so they provide a longer life and are more comfortable to wear than a face mask for people in a normal workplace. We all naturally touch things and then touch our face and mouth and the face shield provides a natural barrier to prevent that happening.
Face shields and Visors for schools, care homes and health centres such as GP’s
Face shields are commonplace in medical settings; doctors and nurses who treat coronavirus patients use them along with standard face masks. Some healthcare professionals recommend that they should also be worn in schools by children and teachers, and by staff in offices and the workplace. Certainly, having your own personal protection screen whilst potentially being exposed to the virus has to be a benefit and comfort.
A significant advantage for care homes, schools and other workplaces is that people can see your face. Those who suffer with hearing issues, and may need to lipread, can see facial expression and hear far more effectively with a visor rather than a mask.
Advantages of face visors and face shields compared to face masks
“Face shields appear to have a number of advantages: They’re easy to wear correctly and good at blocking droplets,” says Eli Perencevich, MD, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System. “They’re really a better option for protection.”
Perencevich and his colleagues published a report in JAMA last month, arguing that face shields have more COVID-fighting potential than standard masks when used with increased testing, contact tracing, and social distancing. A few things make shields superior he says. For one, many people wear masks that fit badly and so don’t work as well. They also prompt people to touch their faces more, increasing the risk of viral spread. They leave much to be desired in terms of comfort, he says, and they make it harder to breathe.
Are face visors and face shields better value?
Shields come with the perk of being easily sanitised and reused, says Keith Kaye, MD, a professor of medicine and director of research for the division of infectious diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School. “I do think we're going to see more and more face shield use,” Kaye says. “Particularly as COVID continues to cause problems.”
According to WebMD Health News Brief May 29th 2020:
While there is not a lot of data on how well masks work, one recent study in China found that wearing a mask at home reduced transmission to other members of the same household by nearly 80%. Shields, meanwhile, have been found to successfully block droplets. One cough simulation study in 2014 found that a shield may reduce exposure by 96% when worn within 18 inches of someone coughing. In addition, face masks are not meant to protect the wearer -- they leave other vulnerable parts of the face exposed, like the eyes. They are meant to keep an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic person from spreading it to others.
Other parts of the world are embracing the use of face shields outside of hospitals. Schoolchildren in Singapore are being given face shields as they head back to classes in the coming days. The Infectious Diseases Society of America has listed widespread use of protective gear, including face shields, in the process of lifting restrictions, but the CDC still recommends just face masks for people outside the healthcare realm.
Like many items of PPE, face shields and face visors have been in short supply. At Deliver Net we already had stock of face shields before COVID-19 but in addition we added a new line, a lower cost visor that is manufactured here in the UK and covers wider needs. We worked with the manufacturer who, 2-months previously, was making paper straws and facing closure as all of its customers had cease trading. Happily, they designed a simple and effective face visor that acquired a CE registration to British Standards and now they supply us and various elements of the NHS.
Deliver Net will, this week, open our warehouse and services to support other businesses beyond the care sectors including schools, offices, factories and organisations of all types. One of the first new customers to benefit from our stocks of PPE was perhaps a more unusual business, an otter sanctuary.