HELP! My glasses are fogging up when I wear a mask

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.

Fogged up frame without nosepads
The top mask is sitting lower, causing the lenses to fog up. The bottom mask is placed higher on the bridge with the frame over top of the mask

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.

Frame with nose pads fogged up
Here is a frame with nose pads.  The top mask is placed lower and the lenses are fogging up, the bottom picture shows the mask higher on the bridge with the nose pads placed on the mask.

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.

Mask with tissue folded and along nose
Mask with folded tissue along nose

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.

 

Bella the Mastiff wearing her K9 Closet Optical Collar
Bella the Mastiff wearing her K9 Closet Optical Collar

 

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.

 

 

Preparing for your optical appointment

The tips I’m going to mention today work regardless if you’re a new patient or an existing one to the practice you are going to, but this is really more for the new patient going into an office for the first time.

 

It is important to prepare for your appointment even before making the first phone call to schedule it.  It is important to get an annual eye health evaluation (eye exam) so the first thing you need to do is choose the right doctor for your needs.  Refer to my post, The Three O’s of Eyecare, for a description of your choices.

 

Before you make your first phone call, determine what optical benefits you have, if any.  Please understand, your medical benefits and your vision benefits are not always the same.  Vision benefits do not always send out a card.  This doesn’t mean the benefits are the same.  For example, you may have Blue Cross Blue Shield for your medical, but your vision benefits may be through VSP.  If you aren’t sure, please ask someone in human resources for clarity.  If you, or your employer, are paying into vision benefits, you want to be able to maximize on your savings.  You should also know who the subscriber is (this is the actual employee of the company in which you have the coverage) as well as his or her date of birth.

Here is a true scenario I have seen happen more than once:  Patient calls and says their benefits are through Blue Cross Blue Shield.  The office takes all of their information.  Because the patient did not know WHO their vision benefits were through, the office used the little information they had to go on and determined the patient had an Exam only plan through VSP using the patient’s social security number.  The patient came in, paid their copay for their exam and received their 20% off they eye wear (the standard discount when you have a VSP exam only benefit).  Six months later, they are talking to a co-worker who is saying how much they saved on their eye wear with their plan.  The first patient didn’t understand why they spent so much more.  It was discovered the patient’s exam only plan was a part of their Blue Cross Blue Shield but they were also paying for an actual VSP plan in which progressive lenses (no line bifocals) and photochromic (Transition lenses which change outdoors) were covered benefits but the plan was only located using a plan specific identification number.  There is no way the office would have known it existed unless the patient gave them the ID number.

As you can see, it is important to know what you have.  If you have VSP or Eyemed, you can even go one step further and register on their website where it will give you a breakdown of your benefits as well as your unique identification number, if you don’t already have it.

Now you are ready to call and make an appointment.  Make sure you have your medical as well as vision benefit information available.  The first thing you will want to ask the office is if they take both your medical and vision benefits.  If they take one but not the other, you may want to reconsider scheduling there unless you are choosing the office for a specific reason, such as another patient referral or a medical condition you know they are able to handle.

Have a few different dates and times you are available ready.  Remember, it may be a week or two, or more if you want a specific doctor, before you can get it.  The more flexible your schedule is, the more likely you will get scheduled quicker.  Be sure to let them know if you are interested in, or currently wearing, contact lenses.  All eye health examinations will include an eyeglass prescription BEFORE they fit you with contacts.  Your contact lens prescription must be updated annually.

On the day of your examination….

Bring your insurance identification cards as well as a picture ID

If you wear your contacts in, be sure to also bring your current pair of eyeglasses in with you.  If you wear different pairs for different activities, such as playing the piano or working on the computer, be sure to bring them all in with you.

If you are a new patient, having a copy of your most recent eyeglass prescription is helpful along with your current contact lens prescription, or the boxes.

Bring a list of your current medications including the dosages.

If you have vision benefits, having a copy of your coverage is also a good idea

Last, but not least, bring a good attitude!  While many offices strive to stay on schedule, sometimes the unexpected happens.  Not everyone realizes how many medical conditions are now treated at your optometrist / ophthalmologist office and, just like any medical profession, the schedule can get shifted slightly due to an eye emergency.

I hope this helps you be better prepared and informed before your next optical appointment!

If you have any questions or need help navigating your benefits, leave a comment or reach out to me.  Please do not include any personal information until I have responded to you. 🤓