Covid-19 has forced people around the world to make some major lifestyle changes to ensure their safety. While social distancing is considered as the best measure, CDC recommends that people wear face masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household, especially when social distancing is difficult to maintain. There is just one problem. People wearing eyeglasses can encounter fogging on their glasses when they have an N95 mask on. At times it can get very annoying. So either the glasses come off, or the mask does. But an N95 face mask is an important barrier between you and infections. So what can be done to ensure that both your glasses and N95 face mask stay on? Before we move on to the solution, let us look at the cause.
Understanding why N95 face masks and glasses don’t get along
There is one reason why glasses fog up - temperature differential. For instance, you are outside on a cold day and when you enter a warm or humid room, your glasses will fog up. This is because of the condensation of water vapour present in the air, on your cold lenses. So when you are wearing an N95 face mask or other personal protection equipment, like a face shield, your warm breath is directed upwards rather than outwards. When the warm, moist air that is directed upwards due to the N95 face mask, comes in contact with the comparatively cool surface of your glasses, it condenses there. Then the droplets that get condensed on your eyeglasses stay there because of surface tension. You will need to wipe the droplets off or let them evaporate. The trouble being, you will have to wipe your glasses again and again because of course, you can’t stop breathing, but your breath will just keep on recondensing more moisture on your glasses.
Top tips to avoid foggy glasses while wearing an N95 face mask
Luckily for the bespectacled, there are ways to avoid getting fog on your glasses while also following the CDC’s guidelines on how to properly wear a face mask. Here are a few tips to help you have a clear vision while wearing glasses with N95 masks.
1. Water and soap
Washing your eyeglasses may not seem like the ideal thing to do, but trust me this tip is really effective. So immediately before putting on your N95 face mask, wash your glasses with soap and water. The trick here is to not wipe off your glasses but to let them air dry. You can also dab them lightly with a soft lint-free fabric. Washing your glass with soap and water creates a thin invisible layer of soap on your glasses. This layer prevents the accumulation of moisture, every time you breathe while wearing an N95 mask. Here is how we know it works- it is the interaction between soap and water. Water has a high level of surface tension, in its mostly-pure state. When soap is added to water, it breaks the water’s surface tension. To be candid, there is a totally complicated explanation to why soap does that to water, but in a nutshell, it does solve our purpose. When a thin layer of soap is left on your glasses, it is much harder for the moisture to condense on the lenses. Although it is not a long-term solution, as the soap may deteriorate throughout the day and you may have to reapply the treatment. It’s possible that you may not be wearing the N95 face mask for the whole day. So if you look at it, it’s quite an effective solution.
2. A tissue to the rescue
N95 face masks provide a snug fit but if you are wearing a cloth mask that does not seal around the face, then this tip is for you. Using a tissue is an efficient way to minimise the moisture from your breath that blows upwards to your glasses. All you have to do is take a single piece of tissue, fold it up and put it beneath the top edge of your face mask. Firstly, the tissue acts as an absorbent cloth that helps block and absorb the moisture from your breath and secondly it provides softer padding for anyone who feels that the inside of the face mask is rough to the skin.
3. Choose the right N95 mask
When buying an N95 face mask, make sure you buy the one that comes with a metal nose clip. This clip will allow you to limit the amount of moisture that comes in or out of the mask. Also, as some people would prefer making the masks at home, they will need to use objects like bobby pins, paper clips, etc to create a fitted nose. Just make sure that the objects you use, don’t come out and scratch your face. So, it’s always better to go for the N95 face masks with adjustable nose clips that are made with high quality, user-friendly materials.
4. Use a commercial anti-fog spray
Anti-fog spray as the name suggests prevents fog from getting accumulated on your glasses. There are dozens of commercial anti-fog sprays available in the market. They work in the same way soap and water does, but it has a more long-lasting effect. Once you spray the solution on your glasses, it leaves an invisible coating that breaks up the surface tension of water. A quick fact, anti-fog or similar sprays were initially used by competitive swimmers to prevent foggy goggles in the middle of a race.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that do not spray the anti-fog solution while wearing the glasses. You should always be careful before putting chemicals near your eyes. Such chemicals, when they come in contact with the eyes, can cause irritations and could affect your vision in a more serious way. Always take note of the cautionary measures before using such products.
So the next time fog gets accumulated on your eyeglasses; you know what to do. Just keep in mind, that taking off the N95 face mask when you are in a public place is not the right way to go. The above-mentioned tips will surely lessen your dilemma that arises every time you go outside wearing glasses with an N95 face mask. Finally, they will get along.
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