Coronavirus: Hacks to stop face masks fogging glasses

As Victoria reentered stage four coronavirus restrictions on Thursday, and while the threat of a coronavirus second wave in the rest of the nation hovers, face masks are being recommended, and in some areas mandated, by health experts and officials.

As of August 2, face coverings– either a face mask or a shield - became mandatory for all Victorians when they leave their home, at risk of a $200 fine.

A man walks past a large face mask pinned to a tree in Melbourne on August 3, 2020 after the state announced new restrictions as the city battles fresh outbreaks of the COVID-19 coronavirus
Victoria has enforced mask-wearing and other areas are slowly following suit. Photo: Getty Images

In the rest of the country, certain shops and areas will enforce mask-wearing and health officials are recommending people across NSW and the ACT wear them, particularly in hotspots.

While the measures are an important step in helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus, anyone who wears glasses will know that the mask presents a uniquely frustrating fogging issue.

As soon as you whip one of the bad boys across your face, if not done properly your glasses will instantly cop the escaping breath from behind the mask.

Woman in mask looks at glasses with fog
Glasses wearers have been finding their face masks are steaming up their lenses. Photo: Getty Images

“Wearing a facemask or face covering is becoming the new normal, but one of the minor problems of the COVID-19 pandemic is fogged-up eyewear,” explains Ceri Smith-Jaynes from the Association of Optometrists.

“This happens when warm breath escapes from the top of the mask and lands on the cooler surface of the lens.”

Thankfully, there is hope for the foggy-eyed among us. A few simple and easy hacks have been said to slow the steam and keep your lenses fog-free.

Ensure the mask is well-fitted

Man fits coronavirus face mask close to nose adjusts wire to stop hot air fogging on glasses
Keeping the wire close to your nose and cheeks will redirect hot air. Photo: Getty Images

Smith-Jaynes suggests taking a little extra time to shape the nose wire on your face mask, so it closely follows the contours of your nose and cheeks. She recommends securing the top strap well, and says something bend like a pipe-cleaner can be inserted into a mask without a wire to help.

“If your mask has no wire, you can insert a twist tie or pipe cleaner into the top edge of the mask,” she adds. “You could secure the top edge with micro-pore tape, if necessary.”

“Alternatively, fold a tissue until it forms a strip and place it along the top edge of the mask before you put it on.”


Adjust the loops

If you have a small head, you may find you need to twist the loops before putting them around your ears to get a snugger fit.

“If the mask has tapes to tie it, tie the top one high on the back of your head after putting on your glasses,” Smith-Jaynes explains.

Buy good quality anti-fog sprays

Hand cleans glasses with anti-fog spray to help with coronavirus fog glasses mask problem
Anti-fog sprays can help. Photo: Getty Images

A good anti-fog spray could be the answer to your prayers, but not all are created equal.

“Good quality anti-fog sprays can work well and can be purchased from most opticians,” Smith-Jaynes says.

Though it is tempting to simply dab some washing-up liquid on your lenses, according to optometrists this is a big no, no.

“[Using washing up liquid on lenses] can break down the anti-reflection lens coating gradually over the years, resulting in a crazy-paving effect for which there is only one cure – replacement lenses,” Smith-Jaynes warns.

Keep your glasses warm

Your lenses will fog up more if they are cold, so Smith-Jaynes suggests a warm-up wear.

Yep, a few minutes of alone time with your glasses before you pop your mask on can make the world of difference.

Alternatively, you can keep them in your pocket for a few minutes before you don the mask.

Have your glasses professionally fitted

Optometrist fits glasses to suit coronavirus PPE fog problems
Re-fitting your glasses with a face mask in mind is a good option. Photo: Getty Images

Still steaming up under your mask? Maybe it’s not the mask, but the glasses that are the problem.

It could be worth seeking professional help from your optician.

“Remember to take your mask with you (and your face-shield if you need to work in one),” Smith-Jaynes says. “They can adjust the nose-pads or sides to fit properly with your PPE.”

“Varifocals will need to sit exactly right to ensure optimum performance.”

Consider contact lenses

If you’ve never worn them before, now could be a good opportunity to give them a go. “If it’s been years since you wore contact lenses, ask the practice about the new options,” Smith-Jaynes suggests.

“You’ll need a professional fitting by an optometrist or contact lens optician. The range of prescriptions is vast; even if you wear varifocal glasses, there are options for you.”

Why do I need to wear a mask?

The World Health Organisation advises that face coverings should be worn in public when social distancing is not possible. This is because of increasing evidence that coronavirus is airborne, which means small particles linger in the air for people to breathe in. Face coverings can stop the virus being spread by people who have it, and stop people who aren’t infected from inhaling it.

Where do I need to wear one?

  • If you go to a COVID testing clinic anywhere in the country, face coverings are essential. Most centres will provide masks.

  • Many GPs will also ask you to wear a mask but check when you make an appointment what the rules are at your local surgery. Visitors to most hospitals are also required to wear face coverings.

  • Some shops (outside Victoria where face coverings are mandatory) are recommending but not mandating masks. However, all Apple stores across the country will turn customers away if they’re not wearing a face covering.

Additional reporting by Marie-Claire Dorking

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