It’s an unfortunate side effect of wearing glasses and a face mask: lens fog. Luckily, you don’t have to choose between blurry vision and preventing the spread of COVID-19—some mask designs are better than others at preventing foggy glasses.
But first, a quick primer why a face mask can make your glasses cloud up in the first place. A few things are at play here. When you breathe out, your breath is warm. “The temperature of the glasses is different than your exhalation,” says Suzanne Willard, Ph.D., a clinical professor and associate dean for global health at the Rutgers School of Nursing. “That will produce condensation on the inside of your glasses.”
A mask ratchets up the issue because it can trap your exhalations—and some masks are worse about this than others. “Masks that do not seal well over the nose direct our warm breath up our cheeks towards our glasses, thus fogging them up and making it harder to see,” says Isabel Valdez, an instructor of internal medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a cloth face mask every time you go out in public and when you’re around people who don’t live in your household, creating a lot of opportunities for your glasses to fog up. So finding face masks that can cohabitate with your glasses is clutch.
What are the best face masks for people with glasses?
It’s less about style and more about fit, Willard says. “A tight fit around the nose helps,” she says. “Masks that have a wire on the top can be adjusted to fit closely and snugly, and can fit just under your glasses.”
If your glasses are fogging up when you wear your mask, it’s a sign that your mask isn’t creating a great seal on your face, Valdez says: “The better the seal, the less fogging you should notice.”
Valdez recommends looking for a “firm wire that molds over the nose” so that you can avoid touching it often to readjust it. Adjustable ear loops or ties can be helpful, too, she says: Getting a good seal with these features “should help redirect the breath down and way from the eyes.”
From there, it’s really a matter of personal preference. An Olson-style mask—a mask design created by medical professionals that curves to your face—can naturally fit more snugly over the nose, Valdez says, but Willard points out that a pleated mask with a wire allows for easy adjustments for a good fit. So, really, it’s up to you—just make sure it fits.
Here are a few options to get you started:
A soft mask with an M-shaped nose clip and adjustable ear loops, this option is great for finding the perfect fit.
These masks have a wire around the nose for easy molding. And, with four layers of fabric, they meet the World Health Organization’s recommendations for cloth face masks.
Specially designed for the glasses set, these masks contain an adjustable metal nose wire and easily fit under frames.
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