During these unprecedented times, most of us are following the CDC guidelines for wearing face masks in public to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, for the 64 percent of Americans who wear glasses – and countless others who wear sunglasses – this new public health mandate comes with an unexpected consequence: foggy lenses.
Wearing a mask directs your warm, exhaled air upwards, which then condenses on the cooler surface of the lens (many of us have encountered this while shoveling snow or playing outdoors in winter). The result is tiny droplets that form on the lens, which scatter the light and reduce the ability of the lens to transmit contrast.
Here are some ways to prevent your glasses from fogging.
Put a tissue inside the top of the mask: If you fold a tissue horizontally and put it between your face and the top of your mask—so it sits over the bridge of your nose— the moisture from your breath will be absorbed by the tissue instead of hitting your glasses.
Buy or make a mask that molds to your nose: Masks that have a flexible wire allow you to mold it around the bridge of your nose, blocking the warm exhaled air from your mouth. For homemade masks use flexible objects like bobby pins, paper clips or pipe cleaners to create a closely fitted “nose.” Be sure to fasten them securely so they don’t scratch your face.
Wash your glasses with soapy water. Then shake off the excess and let them air dry, or gently dry them with a soft tissue. Healthcare practitioners who wear glasses or protective goggles (like surgeons) have done this for decades. This technique leaves a thin film that reduces surface tension that builds up from your breath, causing the water molecules to spread out evenly into a transparent layer that defogs your glasses. Shaving cream can also work.
Use a defogging spray. There are a number available for purchase online. Snorkelers and competitive swimmers often use these sprays to prevent foggy goggles. But remember: these sprays contain chemicals, so check out the reviews carefully before buying them. It’s important not to cause irritation that could impact your eyes and your vision.