Dear Ms. Specs in the City,

Last month you wrote about sanitizing frames… Do you have any tips for preventing lenses from fogging up while wearing masks?

Thank you,
Foggy in Ft. Lauderdale

Dear Foggy in Ft. Lauderdale,

Thank you for your excellent question! Your timing is perfect. Ms. Specs has been pondering this and taking notes on the various ideas and their efficacy. As we have all read on optical social media, the remedies for this timely problem are endless. How do we know what works the best? And while this is important to us, there is no doubt that our valued patients/clients are seeking the same information.  

According to Tara Parker-Pope, in a recent article in the New York Times, there are remedies that can be applied with items you may already have at home. Supplies like Dawn dishwashing liquid, athletic or medical tape… even pipe cleaners can aid in the quest for fog-free lenses. The overwhelming theme that keeps coming up is to have a properly fit mask. If wearing a paper mask, it should have metal at the top to mold it to the nose and upper cheeks. And if wearing a fabric mask, slipping a pipe-cleaner under the top fold in the back can be very effective in making a tight seal. Ms. Specs must say that I tried this, and it worked amazingly well! Also, pulling the mask up as high as possible and securing your glasses over it proves effective.

Well, Dear Readers, I have channeled my inner scientist and developed a data table to chart the findings. Please know that this is anecdotal (a sample of one).

Grading is a simple 1 to 3:

  1. It does not work at all.
  2. It’s just OK.
  3. It really does work!

The constant in the trial was using the same mask, with variations in frame type:

  1. Full metal/full acetate
  2. Semi-rimless
  3. Full rimless

The 10 remedies include:

  1. Mold your mask around your nose and upper cheeks. And of course, keep your mask well below your chin.
  2. A drop of Dawn, baby shampoo or toothpaste. (Ms. Specs is not comfortable risking her fabulous lenses and coatings with toothpaste… will try dishwashing liquid and baby shampoo.)
  3. White athletic or medical tape on top of the mask.
  4. Pull your mask up extremely high, place your glasses over them.
  5. Soap and water, rinse, air-dry.
  6. A tissue folded over a few times inside the mask and folded over the top.
  7. Twisting the ear-band elastic, “making an x.”
  8. Slip glasses way down on the nose. (OK, this was suggested, however, Ms. Specs is not even going to test this one… we all know that this would ruin the optics.)
  9. Products such as Cat Crap. (Really, who came up with this name?)
  10. An anti-fog coating applied to the lenses by some lens manufacturers.

I am experimenting with these remedies indoors (74 degrees), outdoors (85 degrees) and even stuck my head in the fridge: an effort to help our readers from the great white north. I experimented in my own home and tried the “fridge test” with a new mask, as not to bring outside germs into my refrigerator… maybe over the top, but one cannot be too careful! The overwhelming success, without adding dish soap or other products was a combination of placing a pipe cleaner under the fold of a fabric mask, keeping a tight, high fit with specs over them and a folded tissue inside the top, with part of the tissue folded over the top, facing out.  

So, Dear Readers, I leave you with a fun challenge… Let’s experiment with all these remedies and report our findings. I will follow up next month with more details and my completed chart.

Last month, I left you with a fun play list of songs for sanitizing frames. This month, I can only think of one song, regarding mask wearing: “Hello, It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren.

See Well and Be Well,
Ms. Specs in the City
Laurie Pierce, ABOM

Do you have a question for Ms. Specs? Please send your question to [email protected], and we may feature it in a future column.