The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the way for the world’s first fully transparent surgical mask.
Made by ClearMask, a U.S. medical supply company, the masks are designed to help improve visual communication while still protecting those wearing them.
Traditional surgical masks block mouths, which can impede effective communication.
“When traditional masks are worn, miscommunication may increase with people who heavily rely on visual communication, such as deaf and hard of hearing individuals, children, and older adults,” the company said in a statement. “For many, missing critical visual cues can be the difference between complete understanding and a preventable ER visit.”
The company says the masks, which can be used in operating rooms, are also helpful during conversations between people who don’t speak the same language as well as to convey facial expressions more effectively.
“The ability to see a smile can really help,” the company said. “Facial expressions are important for perceived empathy and building rapport, which can reduce confusion and improve relationships.”
The masks are available to buy in bulk in the FDA-cleared medical or non-medical grade.