Like many in our community, I’ve been doing my part to keep the potential spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 down by wearing a mask or cloth face covering.
CDC Recommendations and Sonoma County Public Health Orders: Wear a Mask!
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Since April 17, 2020, in Sonoma County, it is required for all persons by order of the Health Officer to wear facial coverings before entering any indoor facility besides their residence, any enclosed open space, or while outdoors when the person is unable to maintain a six-foot distance from another person at all times.
To help you understand the need for masks and maintaining at least 6 feet between you and the next person (social distancing), view this video:
The Challenges of Wearing a Mask AND Glasses
So needless to say, I’m keeping my simple mask at the ready and have learned to maintain at least 6 feet or 2 meters from others, especially when out in the public.
But I wear glasses and this new way of life has certainly caused a few dilemmas. One major one- the ability to see while wearing the mask!
Keeping my glasses fog free has not been easy during this time of trying to remain safe and still see. So to help others who are in my same four-eyed boat, I’ve gathered a few tips on how to manage to not only stay safe but also see during this pandemic.
How to Wear Face Coverings Correctly
First, we recommend you follow the World Health Organization’s recommendations on how to put on your face mask:
- Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
- To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Why Your Glasses Fog Up
Naturally, we who wear glasses already know that our eyewear fogs up when we walk out of a warm house into the cold outdoor air, or when we open an oven door.
When we wear a mask, our warm breath can escape through the top edges, along the tops of our cheeks. As our hot air escapes through the top of the mask its condensation causes a foggy film on our lens’ surface. Suddenly it impairs our vision. Cold weather makes the problem worse.
Tips for Wearing Face Coverings with Glasses
So what are we to do to make it through this period of protecting ourselves and others from this disease and still be sure we can see where we’re going?
Basically all the tricks produce a protective barrier designed to prevent fog from building up. It’s up to you to select the product that works best for you. If you know of others we encourage you to share them below in the comments!
Purchase a Commercial Anti-Fog Treatment
Of course, you can always purchase a commercial product made specifically for clear vision. There are a variety of anti-fog products or treatments. A lot of companies now manufacture products that are primarily designed to prevent the lens of your glasses from fogging up. They may come in either in gel or spray form. They form a barrier, protecting the lens from moisture and changes in temperature.
See this Amazon search for a variety of anti-fog products.
Household Hacks to Fog Free Vision While Wearing a Face Mask
Below are a sampler of hacks to help you see clearly through the pandemic.
Tape Your Mask
A trick many medical students learn early on when they’re using eye protection goggles is to use tape. Use white athletic or medical tape or even a Bandaid to seal the top of the mask around the bridge of your nose to keep them fog free.
Position your Glasses Further Up
By wearing your glasses slightly further from your face, air can flow move quickly between your skin and lenses such that the amount of heat difference decreases.
Pull Up Your Mask
An easier tip for day-to-day mask wear is to use the weight of your glasses to block the air. Pull the mask up over the bridge of the nose as high as you can (make sure it’s still under your chin too) and let your glasses rest on top of the mask. I tried this and it works pretty well for me, but it depends on the shape and style of your eyewear.
Take Your Glasses Off
This may be the most logical solution when your glasses start to fog. Apart from not giving the fog to chance to get worse, your glasses won’t be needing constant wiping which could leave marks or scratches on the lenses.
Unfortunately, the downside of this suggestion is you won’t be able to see clearly.
Shaving Cream or Soapy Water
Try using a tiny dab of shaving foam to polish your lenses to keep them fog free. Or you can just dip your glasses into some soapy water. Let it dry before buffering off the excess. The buffed off shaving cream creates a clear layer over your glasses to protect from the changes of heat and cold.
Other options along this theme include toothpaste or baby shampoo.
Soap acts as a surfactant or surface-active agent. The soapy water leaves behind a thin film that stops the water molecules from forming droplets that lead to fog.
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 YouTube tutorials like this one from C Channel.
That same Channel C video 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.
The tricky part is to get it right the first time so you’re not constantly touching your face to adjust it. Thin tape — medical tape particularly — could work. If that feels uncomfortable, consider one of the other options laid out here.
What NOT to Use to De-fog Your Glasses
As a swimmer and diver, the first thing we always spit into our googles or dive mask and rub it around before we jump into the water. But given that we’re dealing with a respiratory virus and trying to stop the spread of germs, spitting on your glasses is not advised during a pandemic.
Looking Forward to Viewing Sea Ranch Without the Mask
Hopefully, we’ll get this bugger of a virus under control and soon we’ll be able to ditch the mask. When that day happens we hope the only fog in your vision is that of our friend Karl the Fog.
Otherwise, may your Sea Ranch views be crystal clear and fog free.