Advice for the Routine Use of Face Masks and Coverings
My face mask really bothers me. What can I do to keep my glasses from fogging, my eyes from drying out, and the mask from pushing into my eyes when I am using it?
This is a common question, and addressing it will improve your ability to be safe while using a face covering. It is common for warm air to escape under the upper part of a face covering toward your eyes. This warm air can irritate the ocular surface and fog your glasses, decreasing your ability to see. Unfortunately, pulling the mask down below your nose to help with air leak is not acceptable. For some, the mask also annoyingly rides up into the lower eyelids, causing you to touch and adjust the mask. Frequently fiddling with the mask increases the chances of touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, which increases the chance of virus spread. Once your mask is on, you want to adjust it as little as possible.
Luckily, the doctors at Cornea Associates of Texas have quite a bit of experience in this area! Because we routinely perform surgery at operating microscopes while wearing masks, some of us are used to the annoyances of fogged microscope lenses and mask discomfort. If you are wearing a surgical mask, the first step in addressing an air leak is to pinch the metal bar over the nose at the upper end of the mask to create a seal. For some with high nasal bridges, myself included, this is rarely sufficient. If you are wearing either a surgical mask or a cotton face covering, the next step is to place a long strip of medical tape (paper or plastic) along the upper border of the mask, half over the cheek and nose skin and half over the mask. This will seal the top of the mask, halting the air leak. The tape also has the added benefit of keeping the mask in place if it tends to move up toward your eyelids.
There are anti-fog sprays available for your glasses if fogging is your primary concern. Washing your glasses with soup and water and allowing them to air dry prior to wearing the face mask can work as well. Some glasses wearers can also place their glasses on top of the mask on the nasal bridge, and the weight of the glasses will decrease air leak.
- Dr. Jamie Alexander