Keep Glasses from Fogging in a Face Mask


Stop steaming up my glasses!

Those of a certain age may recognize that memorable line from the 1949 Looney Tunes short “Rebel Rabbit.” Classic Bugs. However, suggested safety precautions in the season of COVID-19 present a unique problem for many of us who are visually challenged.

People who require corrective lenses, but don’t or can’t wear contacts, likely found an additional layer of irritation during the recent pandemic: It’s darn difficult to keep your glasses from fogging up when you wear a face mask.

You just wanted to make a quick venture out to the grocery store to grab a few essentials, but you found yourself blindly lunging and stumbling forward in aisle 7 like a loon because you couldn’t see that package of precious two-ply that you were frantically groping for.

Fear not! There’s no need to discard the face mask and put yourself and others at risk when out in public. There are a couple easy options that can eliminate or at least reduce your frustrations.

First, let’s discuss the source of the conundrum. The issue was explored in a 2011 study (I kid you not, a study) published in The Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, where how the problem occurs was outlined in a buttoned-down and patently English way.

“The face mask directs much of the exhaled air upward, where it gets into contact with the spectacle lenses,” the study states. “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. The droplets form because of the inherent surface tension between the water molecules.”

I feel smarter just having wrote that. It’s even better if you try to picture Thurston Howell III saying it. The study offered a solution to the issue: Just before putting on the mask, wash your glasses in soapy water. No, they’re not calling you a filthy savage for not cleaning your specs. There’s a technique to it.

After washing the glasses, shake off the excess — don’t rinse them — and “let the spectacles air dry or gently dry off the lenses with a soft tissue before putting them back on.” The concept is that the thin layer of soap left behind makes it harder for moisture from your breath to condense on the lenses.

An alternative tip running around on the internet is to fold a facial tissue into a rectangle and place that at the top of your mask between the mask and your face. The idea behind this technique is that the tissue will absorb some of the moisture from your breath, lessening the amount of condensation on the lenses.

So, add facial tissue to the shopping list for your next grocery run and make that essential run with confidence and clear vision.


Tags: COVID-19, face mask

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