Two transparent face masks have been deemed clinically safe and approved for medical use by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The BrillianSee and Visib facemasks offer improved communication compared with traditional, opaque masks, because they provide visibility of facial expressions.

This allows for improved reading and interpretation of non-verbal cues, which is particularly important for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, have cognitive problems and/or learning disabilities.

Around half of Brits are believed to lip read as part of everyday communication

Around half of Brits (46%) are believed to lip read as part of everyday communication, and around a third (29%) say that seeing whole faces makes them feel more comfortable.

In addition, a recent survey of 2,000 people found that a quarter (26%) of people believe they miss important information due to face masks, while 23% said they have difficulty understanding when they can’t read lips.

It is particularly important in healthcare settings that all information is clearly delivered and understood by the patient. Transparent facemasks therefore offer better inclusion for everyone, improve safety and patient outcomes.

“Transparent masks improve communication between everyone, not just in people who rely on lip reading”

Both products were manufactured by Bluetree Medical and are UKCA and CE marked medical devices registered with the MHRA. They offer protection comparable to a Type IIR surgical mask.

The BrillianSee facemask was developed in partnership with Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, after Speech & Language Therapist Wendy Blumenow found children in her care had difficulty in her speech therapy classes because they could not see her face.

The masks have been used by numerous departments across Alder Hey, and the Trust is now thrilled that usage can be expanded to other medical settings.

Iain Hennessey, Consultant Paediatric and Neonatal Surgeon and Clinical Director of the Innovation Hub at Alder Hey said: “Transparent masks improve communication between everyone, not just in people who rely on lip reading. As we now pay more attention to the personal protective equipment we wear in healthcare, we have to think how it can be improved, making masks transparent is one of those steps”

Ensuring that healthcare provision is inclusive for all

Visib was developed in partnership with a world leading Professor of Otology and Neurotology at University of Sheffield, and Consultant ENT Surgeon at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. He said: “With one in four adults projected to have some form of hearing loss by 2050, Visib is a game-changer in the world of medical grade facemasks.

“The transparent window is large enough to provide clear visibility of the mouth, enabling lip reading and emotional cues. And Visib is extremely comfortable for the wearer, without fogging or looking alien. Mask wearing is set to continue in healthcare settings for the considerable future, and Visib ensures that healthcare provision is inclusive for all.”