Masks are a crucial way to decrease the spread of COVID-19, but these mouth-and-nose coverings cause a few nuisances, including fogged-up eyeglasses. When it’s cold, your breath puffing up through the top of the mask clouds the lenses, especially when you go from the chilly outside to the warmer indoors and the mask isn’t tight around your face. The effect is similar to how a hot shower’s steam fogs up a cool bathroom mirror.

How To Prevent Foggy Eyeglasses While Wearing A Mask

The easiest, and least expensive, way to ensure that your glasses don’t fog is to wear a snug-fitting mask with a tight seal across the top that prevents your breath from escaping, says Moran Roni Levin, M.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. But there are other options, including antifog lens coatings, sprays, and wipes.

DIY techniques

An easy hack is to place a folded tissue between your mouth and the mask. The tissue will absorb the warm, moist air, preventing it from reaching your glasses. Also, make sure the top of your mask is tight and the bottom looser, to help direct your exhaled breath away from your eyes.

“Washing the spectacles with soapy water leaves behind a thin surfactant film that reduces this surface tension and causes the water molecules to spread out evenly into a transparent layer,” the article reveals. “This ‘surfactant effect’ is widely utilized to prevent misting of surfaces in many everyday situations.” Antifogging solutions used for scuba masks or ski goggles also accomplish this.

Antifog lens coatings

Most antifog coatings are hydrophilic, meaning they act as a kind of microscopic sponge, allowing droplets of water to absorb into the coating, which prevents an opaque film from forming on the lenses. They are bonded to the lenses during the manufacturing process before the eyeglasses are cut to fit your frame.

Over-the-counter wipes and sprays

If you don’t want to swap out your lenses, you can treat your specs with an over-the-counter protectant, such as an antifog spray or portable premoistened wipes. These treatments usually work by depositing a super-thin film of chemicals onto your lenses that prevent droplets from forming.

Most products dry and begin working, within seconds. Sprays usually need to be rubbed into lenses with a microfiber cloth to evenly spread the product. It’s effective, but that coating will wear off over time. “It’s no different than putting wax on your car,” Vitale says. “The wax works really well until the first time you run it through the car wash and some of it gets stripped off. The same thing happens here. Every time you wipe your lens clean, you’re wiping some of that coating off, so you need to reapply it every couple of days.”

You may need to try a few brands to see which antifog spray works best. And by all means, read those product reviews. Be sure they indicate that they won’t harm any protective coatings you have on your lenses (some shouldn’t be used on anti-reflective lenses). And note the presence of ammonia or alcohol, which may irritate sensitive eyes.

Optometrist, Broken Arrow OK
Dr. Matthew Ozment
(918) 893-3769