Don’t worry eyeglass wearers! There are solutions when your specs fog up.
As more Americans adapt to wearing face masks to venture outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us who wear eyglasses are finding that their lenses fog up. Why does it happen? In a 1996 article in Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, Tom Margrain, a professor at Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, explained that in general “when a spectacle wearer enters a warm environment after having been in a cooler one, his/her spectacles may ‘mist up’ due to the formation of condensation on the lens surface.” He went on to say that polycarbonate lenses demisted more rapidly than those made of glass.
Five techniques to minimize fogging while wearing a face mask
- Soap and Water
The Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England published an article in 2011 that offered a simple method to prevent fogging, suggesting that, just before wearing a face mask, people wash their spectacles with soapy water, shake off the excess and then allow the lenses to air-dry. Washing the spectacles with soapy water leaves behind a thin surfactant film that reduces this surface tension and causes the water molecules to spread out evenly into a transparent layer. This ‘surfactant effect’ is widely utilized to prevent misting of surfaces in many everyday situations. It’s not a permanent solution, however, and must be repeated a few times a day. Woodworkers who have to wear safety goggles with dust masks have found that shaving cream is also effective in preventing condensation on glasses.
- Anti-fog Spray
Some chemical sprays stop moisture from collecting on your glasses. Competitive swimmers sometimes use similar sprays to prevent foggy goggles in the middle of a race. Like soap and water, these sprays are designed to keep condensation from sticking to lenses. Environmental Design and Construction Magazine recently put together a handy list of the best anti-fog sprays. A quick word of caution: Be careful before putting chemicals near your eyes. Defogging your glasses isn’t worth causing irritations that could affect your vision in more serious ways.
- A Flexible Nose Clip
Some masks come with a metal nose clip that allows the wearer to limit the amount of moisture that comes in or out of the mask. If you’re sewing homemade masks, you can use flexible objects like bobby pins, paper clips or pipe cleaners to create a fitted “nose.” It’s worth mentioning that they should be fastened tightly to ensure they don’t come out and scratch your face. Click here for a tutorial on how to incorporate a fitted nose and filter pocket into a DIY mask.
- Fold Down Part of the Mask
Though this sounds like the easiest way to mitigate the problem, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Folding down the top quarter of a face mask provides extra space for your breath to escape before it hits your glasses. This method is championed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and has gained traction through short YouTube clips like this. Keep in mind, though, that this doesn’t work in masks containing metal noses and more importantly, it reduces the area covered by the mask.
- Insert Folded Tissues
This same short video from Japan also teaches us another way to keep glasses from fogging: folding a tissue into a rectangle and connecting it to the mask so it stays on the bridge of your nose. The tissue blocks and absorbs some of the moisture escaping the mask to keep lenses clear. Keeping the tissue in place can be tricky, and it’s vital to get it right the first time so you’re not constantly touching your face to adjust it. A piece of thin medical tape can help hold it in place.
So if you’re an eyeglass wearer, try one or more of these techniques to help keep your lenses from fogging while wearing a face mask. See clearly and stay safe as we get through this challenging period together.
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Sources: AARP / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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