Face masks have become an integral part of our daily attire throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, offering added protection as we practice social distancing and best hygienic practices. As we continue to adjust to this new norm, we must also overcome the nuisance of eye discomfort and foggy lenses that inevitably occur when wearing masks.
As you exhale while wearing a mask, warm, moisture-filled air can push up through the top of your mask and into your eyes. The rush of air may create a feeling of dry eyes, discomfort and the urge to rub your eyes or face. Additionally for glasses-wearers, it can become hard to see as the moisture from your breath flows over the surface of your lenses.
“Just as your glasses fog up when leaving your cool car to Southwest Florida’s humid outdoors, your warm breath can result in a thick layer of condensation that covers your lenses, making it difficult to see clearly,” said Dr. Kate Wagner, optometrist and managing partner for Elmquist Eye Group. “Thankfully, a number of simple preventative measures can be taken to help combat eye discomfort and the frustration caused by foggy glasses.”
Consider these tips for keeping your vision clear while wearing a mask:
• Assess the fit of your mask. The mask should fit snugly around the face and over the nose. A metal nose piece can help secure your mask to the contour of your nose and prevent warm air from steaming up your lenses.
• Wash your glasses with soapy water and let them air dry. This creates a thin film on the glasses that helps prevent fogging.
• Anti-fogging solutions, a common trick among scuba divers and swimmers, can help keep your spectacles clear. However, look for eyewear-
specific products and avoid using DIY solutions like shaving cream or products designed for other purposes like cars, as they may cause damage to your lenses.
• Consider anti-fog lenses. Certain lenses feature anti-fogging properties to greatly reduce cloudy vision. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can offer recommendations for your needs.
• Place a clean tissue between your mouth and your mask. This trick can help absorb the moisture as you exhale, keeping it from fogging up your glasses.
• Use tape. A piece of double-sided tape between the mask and the bridge of the nose may help create a better fit.
• Adjust your glasses. Larger-rim eyeglasses may fit comfortably over the mask, creating a tighter seal against your nose. The bridge pieces of your spectacles can also be adjusted or worn lower on the nose, however, this may alter the clarity of vision for some people with strong or progressive prescriptions.
• A simple trick, if all else fails, is to breathe out of your nose or position your mouth to breathe downwards, pushing the air down instead of up toward your eyes.
• Eye drops can also offer added comfort, especially for those who suffer from mask-associated dry eye. Artificial tears are available over the counter, or an ophthalmologist can assess and prescribe medicated eye drops.
While many are choosing to wear eyeglasses to help reduce the need to touch your eyes and provide some added protection, contact lenses can still be safely worn.
Regardless of which route you prefer, you should always wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face or applying contacts, and don’t forget to clean your spectacles regularly with a soft cloth and lens cleaning solution, or soap and water.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) identifies the eyes as one of the possible transmission points for spreading COVID-19, so it is important to take precautions to protect your eyes. Resist the urge to touch your face or mask, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and be sure to follow the CDC’s recommendations for putting on and removing your mask.
Kate Wagner, O.D.
With more than 25 years of service to the Southwest Florida community, Elmquist Eye Group offers experienced doctors who are dedicated to patient care. Dr. E. Trevor Elmquist, Dr. Kate Wagner, Dr. Sarah Eccles-Brown, Dr. Nina Burt and Dr. Yasaira Rodriguez of Elmquist Eye Group are available to answer your questions. With three U.S. military veterans leading the practice, Elmquist Eye Group’s team stands ready to serve you right here in Southwest Florida. For more information, visit www.Elmquist.com, call 239-936-2020 or stop by an Optical Boutique location in Fort Myers or Cape Coral.
7970 Summerlin Lakes Dr.
2336 Surfside Blvd., Suite 121