Do coronavirus masks fog up your glasses?
I'm a faithful mask wearer — and I'm not about to change that — but every time I strap one on, it's like I'm in the front row at a Kiss concert and somebody has just turned on the fog machine.
Frankly, I feel like I am having a bigger problem than other people. One day last week, I forgot to take my mask off after an interview. I got into my car, turned the AC on "max" and immediately went fog blind. I clawed my glasses off just in time, as the beeper on my car signaled I was about to back into a dumpster.
When this happens, I'm talking bad, blinding fog. Like when you open the dishwasher in the middle of the wash cycle to add a fork and a blast of steam hits you in the face. Or maybe when somebody tries to mace you with a can of Pam. (OK, maybe that doesn't happen to you. But, boy, if it did ...)
It could just be me. Maybe my breath is unnaturally moist, or maybe I'm just not doing the mask thing right.
I've experimented with cloth masks, N95 masks, masks with little filter inserts and those light-blue disposable masks that you see everywhere. Nothing seems to stop the fog. I've even tried double masking; but that just makes me gasp.
Theoretically, some masks, like the N95s, come with those little metal clamps that you are told to mold over the bridge of your nose for a close, comfortable seal. Unfortunately, I still get seepage. If I smile, or yawn, or otherwise rearrange the muscles in my face, the seal breaks, and the fog cycle starts all over again.
I've even got a custom mask with exhaust valves over each nostril. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to notice that this may filter your air intake but does nothing to stop your potentially germy exhalations.
If you go to the internet, you'll find plenty of hacks for preventing lens fog, but all of them seem flawed.
* For instance, we're told: Wash your glasses with soapy water and let them air dry.
The last time I bought glasses, they cost $800. I was told that this high cost was due to all the Space Age coatings that were placed on the lenses to make them high-def, scratch resistant, self-tinting and glare-proof. I was also provided special, nonabrasive cleaner and soft cloth. I'm not about to squirt Dawn on my $800, multicoated glasses.
* We're also told: Tape your glasses to your face to create an impenetrable barrier.
Sorry, no. I don't consider myself vain, but I also don't want to walk around with my face all taped up like a piece of leaky duct work. I find that duct tape on the face signals a certain lack of refinement, maybe even a trace of redneckery.
I like to think of myself as a creative person, so I've tried to some up with a few hacks of my own.
* Hack No. 1: Chew ice.
If fog on the glasses is caused when hot air hits cool glass, then maybe cooling your breath will help. OK, I just realized that this would entail lifting you mask periodically to shovel in more ice. Nix that.
* Hack No. 2: Put a drinking straw in each nostril to vent your exhales out the bottom of the mask like a snorkel. OK, come to think of it, that won't work either, as circumventing the mask with your breath defeats the whole purpose of wearing a face covering.
* Hack No. 3: If cars can have fog lights, why not people. Maybe if I strapped a miner's helmet to my head it would cut through the fog.
Also, let's try crowd-sourcing. Leave a comment or send me an email and let us know how you've solved the foggy glasses problem, and maybe we'll share your answer.
And then we can all breathe a little easier.
Email Mark Kennedy at email@example.com.