Fogged up? Choosing the right anti-fog solution for your glasses
Cold weather, exercise, cooking, wearing face masks and more can create fog problems for those who wear glasses. But there’s no one anti-fog solution for glasses. Experts recommend combining strategies, from simple do-it-yourself steps to professional products made to help keep your vision clear.
Why fogging is a big deal
While most people consider fogging a mere nuisance, it can have serious safety implications. If your lenses fog up while you’re driving, using machinery, working with chemicals or playing sports, for instance, the result can be disastrous. In any setting where you might be using safety goggles, it’s also vital that you stay aware of your surroundings. Finding an anti-fog solution that works for you can help reduce those risks.
Why glasses fog up
Glasses fog up because moisture that’s naturally in the air condenses on lenses when there is a temperature difference between the two sides of the lens, or when moisture from your breath is caught on the lens. Glasses trap both heat from your face and moisture from your breath, especially if you’re wearing a face mask.
Fogging can happen on both the outside and inside of your lenses, so solutions will need to be applied to both the lenses’ interior and exterior. If your lenses fog up on the outside when you lean over a cup of hot coffee or the inside from wearing a face mask, you’ll be protected.
Anti-fog products for glasses
Anti-fog products generally work by coating lenses with a hydrophilic, or water-loving, solution. This method might seem counterintuitive because fogged lenses are caused by water! However, an anti-fog coating for glasses attracts water, making it better able to disperse the water instead of creating visible fog.
To use anti-fog spray for glasses, you’ll apply a fine mist to your lenses and let it dry before wearing the glasses. Spray methods have the benefit of being easy to bring along to use while out. Finding the best anti-fog spray for glasses, as well as the best amount to apply, may require a bit of trial and error; if you apply the spray too thickly, it might be visible when you put the glasses back on.
Anti-fog wipes for glasses
Most anti-fog wipes do double duty. The wipes clean glasses as well as cover them with an anti-fog solution. Many wipes are available in a single-packet form (similar to a sanitizing wipe you might find at a barbecue restaurant), making them portable for use on the go.
Anti-fog gel for glasses
An anti-fog gel is applied directly to your glasses’ lenses, usually using a special cloth designed to avoid scratching.
While this method isn’t as easy to use on the go, it’s a favorite of some glasses wearers. For instance, when The Guardian’s Elias Visontay put a handful of different anti-fog solutions to the test, the gel was his favorite choice for the best anti-fog for glasses. His verdict: “I’ll be recommending it to every four-eyes I see in the street.”
Other anti-fogging products
You might also see other anti-fog products on the market, such as anti-fog wax for glasses or anti-fog paste for glasses. These products generally work similarly to the methods listed above by applying a hydrophilic solution to your glasses’ lenses.
An anti-fog cloth for glasses is another option for reducing fog, especially when lenses have already started fogging. They let the wearer wipe away the fog that formed while leaving molecules behind to prevent additional condensation. Unlike wipes, these cloths are reusable.
Face masks and fogging
Whether you are wearing a mask for work or preventing the spread of disease, you’re probably familiar with the problem of fogged lenses.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s article on how to wear a face mask without fogging your glasses is an excellent resource with tips including:
Wearing a mask that’s fitted closely to your face.
Wearing your glasses pushed slightly more forward on your nose.
Resting the bottom of your glasses over the mask (rather than having the top of your mask come up over the top of the glasses).
Keeping your glasses clean, either with an anti-fog product or just by washing them with soap and water.
You can also buy an anti-fog mask for glasses specifically designed to help reduce fogging, often with fitted nosepieces that you can adjust to cling tightly to your nose and cheeks. The CDC recommends that people who wear glasses look for masks with a nose wire that fits the nose closely. A good anti-fog face mask for glasses will offer protection and still ensure you can wear both your mask and glasses with comfort.
It’s important to continue wearing eye protection if you need it, even if you’re experiencing some fogging on the lenses. The American Optometric Association’s member ophthalmologists noted an uptick in people coming in with eye injuries because they didn’t want to wear both a mask and protective eyewear, such as safety goggles.
Making your own homemade anti-fog for glasses
Are you looking for a quick, DIY anti-fog for glasses? You’ll want to be careful to avoid harming your lenses. However, experts recommend a couple of solutions, and they both involve readily available household supplies.
If your glasses have an anti-reflective (AR) coating, experts recommend steering clear of these home remedies, which may damage that coating. AR coatings are commonly applied to lenses, so you may want to double-check with your optometrist before attempting any homemade solution.
The first trick involves shaving cream. Apply a small amount to your glasses’ lenses and then gently clean it off. Be sure to use a clean cloth that won’t scratch your lenses. You also want to be sure not to get the foam into the space between the lens and the frame, creating unwanted build-up.
The second trick is to use a bar of soap and lightly draw an “X” on the lenses’ front and back. Carefully clean it off, leaving a thin coating over the lens surfaces.
These anti-fog DIYs will need to be re-applied regularly as they wear off or as they become saturated with water and your lenses begin to fog again.
Choosing glasses to reduce fogging
If you regularly need to wear a mask, exercise in your frames, or just often find your glasses fogging, your best bet might be to start with the glasses themselves. Both the frame and the lenses you choose can make a difference with how often your lenses end up fogged.
When choosing a frame, keep in mind that fogging is more likely when more air is trapped near your face and eye. In general, the bigger the frame, the more area there will be to fog up. Frames that sit higher up toward the eye tend to be less prone to fogging.
Anti-fog lenses for glasses (such as Optifog) are becoming more popular, as well. Some types require a particular activating solution to be reapplied. Still, anti-fog lenses are generally beneficial and make an excellent choice for those who find fogging to be a recurring issue. You can speak with your ophthalmologist or optometrist about additional anti-fog treatments for glasses.
Anti-fog solutions for glasses when you’re playing sports
Sports protective lenses often come with anti-fog properties built in, such as double-lens ski goggles, which drastically reduce fogging. You can search for sport-specific anti-fogging products to find ones that work best for the needs of a particular sport or activity. You can also get products such as an anti-fog restorer that can work to renew a worn-off anti-fog coating that came with the goggles.
In the end, the best anti-fog treatment for glasses and goggles will be whichever particular method works for you. Experiment with a few different techniques to see what ends up being the most effective for your glasses and the fogging you experience. And if you’re having trouble identifying a solution that works, don’t be afraid to consult with your eye care professional to get some expert advice.
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Page published in February 2021
Page updated in March 2022