In light of everything that is happening globally right now, many people are choosing to wear a face covering of some kind. While this is a great option to help keep us safe, the biggest problem that comes with a mask is having to deal with glasses that fog up while wearing the mask.
Why do they fog up?
This is a simple answer. We are full of hot air! OK, seriously though, it’s simple physics, your warm breath is escaping through the top of the mask, going up into your lenses, which are room temperature (cooler than your breath) and turns the water vapor into water molecules. These water molecules form on the lenses and causes the cloudiness; or fogging up.
I want to break down a few things for you regarding this as well as share some tips and tricks to try to minimize this problem WITHOUT ruining your lenses.
Is your mask fitting properly?
The first thing we want to look at is how is your mask fitting you? If the mask is fitting you properly, you should not have lenses fog up because very little air is going to be up and out of the top of the mask hitting your lenses. Surgical (n95) masks have a piece built into them to help form them along the nose and the cheeks. It is important to start with the nose, and then flatten along the face so it is smooth on your cheeks. Remember, if the air is escaping through the top and fogging up your glasses, it is easier for air particles to get down through the top and into your respiratory system!
If you are wearing a homemade (sewn) mask, make sure it is one that has a pipe cleaner or some other forming agent to allow you to tighten it against your nose and face. Always wash your hands before putting your mask on. Place it on using the straps, then form it along the nose and upper cheek area. Once you have done that, do not touch your mask again! This is very important, not for the fogging lenses, but for your safety.
If you have a sewn mask and it does not have something built into it to form to your nose, you can also apply some surgical tape to the top of it. This will keep your mask tight against your nose and cheeks and minimize the amount of air escaping up through the top of the mask.
Another thing to check is the elastic or ties you are using to keep it on. Some go over your ears, some around the back of your head. Either way your mask is held on, it has to be tight enough to keep your mask snug against your face. The mask shouldn’t hurt, but yes, it probably will be a little uncomfortable until you get used to it. It will most likely leave a slight line along the top of your cheeks and nose….as long as it’s not digging into your skin, the faint line is to be expected.
What else can I do?
OK, so your mask is fitting properly but you’re still getting a little big of fogging up. It’s better, but still bothersome. There are a few other things you can do.
Wear your mask higher up on your nose and place your glasses OVER the mask, resulting it them sticking out a little more, allowing more air to circulate around them. This is, in my opinion, the BEST option AFTER making sure the mask is fitting properly. Be careful with this option and how far you lift them out if you have a higher prescription as it may alter your prescription / vision slightly. As you can see from the pictures, it works with frames with nose-pads and those frames without.
Another option is to fold a tissue and place it under your mask along the nose. Remember to wash your hands before folding the tissue or when getting ready to remove it. The tissue helps fill in any gaps. Make sure it is folded over quite a few times though to give yourself extra protection and throw away often to prevent it from collecting any germs. Close your eyes and pull up and away keeping the shape in tact and dispose of immediately.
Can I buy anything to help?
You can purchase some anti fog cleaner / wipes. Now there are a lot of options out there so you must make sure you are only buying a product that is safe for ALL LENS TYPES. Some of the anti fog products available are not designed for lenses with special types of coatings. It may strip your scratch resistant coatings and / or anti reflective coatings resulting in permanently damaged lenses. You think your glasses appear “foggy” with a mask, try having them feel like that the whole time you’re wearing them. It might happen if you use a product not designed for your lenses. Some of the disadvantages of an anti-fog cleaner is a lot of them have a slight smell. If you are sensitive to smells, it could bother you. They don’t work that well and you may have to apply often. This can get a little annoying.
The other thing to remember is any product you are putting on your lenses results in some type of chemical being close to your eye, which can cause some discomfort or irritation to the eyes.
Long term solution is there are coatings you can order for your lenses which come with special cleaning cloths and reduce fogging. This option is especially good for those who work in an industry where their lenses fog up a lot. For example, someone who cooks in a kitchen or someone who goes in and out of a freezer a lot. It is a little more expensive and you have to use the cleaning supplies provided to you for them, but it is great for those who truly need that feature. The one I usually recommend to my patients if they have a need for this is the Crizal OptiFog Anti Reflective coating.
Are there any home remedies or products I already have at home to help?
There is one option which I personally don’t think works very well, but some people swear by it so I will include it……because there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Apply a fine barrier of bar soap. Make sure to not use any soap with anti-bacterial properties; it may damage some of your coatings. Use a mild soap, like Ivory. Let the soap dry slightly on the lenses and then gently wipe the excess soap away. I feel like it still fogs up slightly and again, I’m a scent person. I can smell the soap when I put them back on and I don’t want to smell the soap.
There is some communication saying to use shaving cream to eliminate fogging, PLEASE DO NOT do this. It is not safe for most lenses and can result in damaging your lenses.
Overall, the best solution is a proper fitting and properly adjusted mask, regardless of the style. Wearing it high on your bridge and putting your glasses on over the mask will work the best.
Have a great day everyone and see the world as clearly as you can! 🤓
If you liked this article and want to read more, please follow me on Facebook @PaulaTheOptician or subscribe to this blog. You can find my other writing, not related to eye care and optical on my site: HaliPawz Where I enjoy writing reviews, ADA adventures with my mom, as well as just some humorous things that happen to me.
I want to give special recognition to K9 Closet in Kansas City. They made my optical themed face mask and I love it! They normally do dog collars and my Neapolitan Mastiff, Bella, has the same fabric in her collar!
Product Update: For those of you who remember the green frames I’m wearing from my blog about purchasing eye-wear online, I used them for some of the testing I did so I wouldn’t ruin the lenses in my quality eye-wear. I hardly ever wear them for the reasons I indicated in the blog. They are kept in a case when I am not wearing them and they still have a lot of tiny scratches on them.