: Photo: Elizabeth Yuko
when we go outside, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, what was once an issue for those in certain professions is now affecting the rest of the population. Before this pandemic started, I spent a year and a half wearing face masks for long periods of time while caring for my mother who was being treated for leukemia with chemotherapy and a stem cell tra nsplant. We were told that she had the immune system of an infant without any vaccines and were advised to wear masks around her. As a glasses-wearer, this posed a challenge: It’s hard getting stuff done when your glasses are fogged up all the time.
Here is how my glasses usually look like while wearing a face mask — especially when I’ve just come indoors after being outside:
This is even more of an issue for us now that we aren’t supposed to touch our faces. It’s not as if we can just take our glasses off when they fog up, wipe them, and put them back on without possibly transmitting the virus from our hands to our face. And if you’re someone who truly relies on wearing glasses all the time to see (as opposed to reading glasses or light prescriptions so you can read faraway signs), taking them off isn’t an option. So what’s the bespectacled population to do? Yesterday, for the sake of journalism, I put on my outside pants and tried some of the supposed solutions for preventing foggy glasses while wearing a face mask. Here’s what I found out.
, here’s what happens:
“The face mask directs much of the exhaled air upwards where it gets into contact with the spectacle lenses. The misting occurs from the warm water vapor content condensing on the cooler surface of the lens, and forming tiny droplets that scatter the light and reduce the ability of the lens to transmit contrast. ” Even without face masks, people who wear glasses and live in cold climates are likely used to their specs fogging up when they return indoors after being outside when it’s chilly. The same thing is basically happening here, with the added complication of your hot, moist breath wafting up towards your lenses. Along the same lines, I’ve noticed that my glasses fog up significantly more when I’m wearing a face mask outside when the temperature is lower. In fact, it was 81 degrees in New York yesterday when I started doing my test and it took some time for my glasses to fog up, whereas when I wore a mask a few days ago when it was in the 64 s, my glasses completely fogged up within seconds. Methods for preventing foggy glasses while wearing a face mask
Before I get into which methods worked best, I should mention that after initially going out on my fire escape in the afternoon and not dealing with much fog, I went out again yesterday evening when the temperature had dropped about degrees. That’s all it took: my glasses fogged up pretty much immediately after leaving my building. Though clearly this is nowhere near a solid scientific experiment and would not pass a peer. review, but I did try to use some sort of methodology. When I tried each de-fogging method, I walked one block in order to make sure that I was recreating the typical conditions when my glasses fog up (outdoors and on the move). I also used hand sanitizer every time I put on or took off my mask. Also, I should note that I was only working with the supplies I had in my apartment, so I did not have any anti-fog spray
. I did use and have luck with it previously, and sure I could order some online, but wanted to see what other options were out there. I was using a reusable cloth mask I had purchased on Etsy. Here are the results of my experiment. Tissue paper This video from Japan shows a person folding up a piece of tissue paper into a small rectangle and then placing it at the top of their mask. The idea here is to add another layer to the mask at the top (where the warm, moist air escapes) to absorb the moisture. After rooting through my closet, I found a gift bag with some pretty fresh-looking tissue paper still inside, and gave it a whirl. I folded it up just like they did in the video (though the video shows a disposable surgical mask and not the cloth type I used) and before I was even able to start walking the block, my glasses fogged up immediately. I tried it a few more times — with and without taping the tissue paper down — and got the same results every time: my glasses fogged up even more than they did without the tissue paper. Maybe this only works with disposable masks, or perhaps I did it wrong, but I won’t try this method again.
Folding the top quarter of the mask (According to Fast Company
, the Metropolitan Police Department In Japan suggests folding the top quarter of your mask down — the idea being that the escaping air won’t be as close to your glasses. Again, I had concerns about losing any surface area of the mask. But like the cheek-gaps method, it did prevent my lenses from getting foggy. Still, going by the CDC’s snug fit recommendation, this does not seem like a great idea.
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from an office supply store could work for this if you’re making your own mask. Others have used pipe cleaners or paperclips to the same effect.