Masks are the best tool we have in protecting ourselves, our community, and our loved ones from coronavirus.
But it’s not just wearing a mask; it’s wearing the right mask and wearing it consistently.
For glasses wearers, that might seem particularly challenging. When we put on a face mask, we’re more likely to take it off too early (or not wear it at all) because we can’t see through our misty lenses.
No one wants to get their grandparents and neighbors sick — but it can feel hard to prioritize public health over being able to see.
If you wear eyeglasses and find yourself needing relief from foggy lenses, here are some helpful tips that will make life a little easier while wearing a face mask — so you can see better and breathe easier knowing you and your loved ones will stay safe.
This article talks you through the following:
- The importance of wearing a face mask
- Why glasses fog up when wearing a face mask
- Best face masks for glasses wearers
- Tips on how to stop face mask glasses fog
Why Glasses Fog Up When Wearing a Face Mask
When your optometrist gave you a prescription, it’s unlikely you ever thought you would have to figure out how to put the ear loops from a face mask over your eyewear.
The primary reason that glasses fog up when wearing a mask is that air flows upward into your glasses from your warm breath.
As the warm air comes out of your nose or mouth, it’s then pushed out of the mask through any gaps, usually the top of the mask or the sides, up the bridge of your nose, and towards the eyes.
When this air reaches your glasses’ cooler lens, it quickly cools down, turning it into condensation, which causes fogging. The same effect happens to glasses when you open a hot oven door or are wearing a thick scarf during the winter months.
Best Face Masks for Glasses Wearers
One reason you experience fogging is that your mask does not tightly fit your face. When that happens, it’s easier for the warmth to rise and leave the seal of your mask.
You might be stressing about your foggy glasses, but that moist air blocking your vision is a warning sign for something much more concerning — an improperly fitting face mask.
The gap between the top of your mask and your face not only allows for your breath to escape — it will enable germs, bacteria, and viral particles to escape too.
That gap is also where viral particles can get in, putting you at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.
So, how do you prevent it?
First, start with the most tight-fitting (and most protective) mask — the respirator face masks such as the N-95 or K95 respirator mask.
Respirator face masks are the most suitable choice for glasses wearers due to their snug fit. They are tight-fitting masks, so there is minimal leakage around the face mask’s edges and less warm air being pushed out of the mask towards the eyes.
Respirator face masks are CDC-approved and classed as PPE. They include ratings such as N95, KN95, FFP1, FFp2, and FFP3.
Respirator face masks are the most effective of all face masks and face coverings against the transmission of COVID-19 due to their ability to filter up to 95% of tiny airborne particles, along with large droplets such as respiratory and bodily fluids.
If you settle for a surgical mask, realize that the safety isn’t as extensive, and fogging is more likely to occur.
If you absolutely must wear a cloth mask or 3-ply mask, we’ve outlined some quick fixes below.
Tips on How to Stop Face Mask Glasses Fog
Ensure Your Mask is Fitted Tightly
Again, choose the tightest fitting mask you can find. Looser fitting masks such as 3-ply surgical face masks and washable cloth face masks let warm exhaled air escape towards your eyes.
Tight, snug-fitting face masks only allow minimal air out of the mask’s bottom and side edges, keeping the air away from your eyes and glasses.
It’s also best to choose a face mask fitted with an adjustable nose strip or a face mask that can be adjusted to fit your face more tightly.
Clean Your Glasses With Soap and Water
The best way to de-fog your glasses is to prep before you put on your face mask. If your glasses do not have a special coating on them, many health professionals recommend washing the lenses with soapy water and cleaning with a microfibre cloth.
The soap is known to leave behind a thin film that acts as a barrier to fogging. But, don’t worry — it’s a transparent layer that won’t affect your vision.
Wear Your Glasses Over Your Mask
If you forget to clean your glasses, the most straightforward hack of all is to pull your mask up so it sits slightly higher on the bridge of the nose. In this case, the majority of warm air traveling upwards should miss your lenses.
Tape the Mask Down
There are many adhesive tapes available these days that are suitable for the skin and face. Taping the mask around the bridge of your nose can stop the warm air from being directed towards the eyes.
Purchase an Anti-Fogging Product
Anti-fogging products such as sprays or wipes can be an effective solution, but it is also the most costly. And, if you have anti-glare or anti-smudge lenses, these alternatives typically don’t work.
The Importance of Wearing a Face Mask
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, face masks have been sought after by healthcare workers and the general public seeking protection against the COVID-19 virus.
In more recent times, it has become mandatory in most countries around the world to wear either a face mask or face covering at all times while in a public setting.
When face masks and face coverings are worn correctly, they can significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In the future, a COVID-19 vaccine may become readily available worldwide. Until then, all human beings, despite age, gender, or eyewear, remain susceptible to the virus.
Now that you know how to wear one and keep foggy lenses at bay, you can wear a face mask comfortably and consistently in public.
For more information on how wearing PPE protects you from COVID-19, read our previous blog post: How PPE Protects You.
Cover photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash.