Eye Health Central

Tips on successful mask wearing

Tips on successful mask wearing

Wearing face mask

Wearing a face mask has become the new reality in many parts of the world due to the continuing fight against Covid 19.

We have all been practicing social distancing and frequent extended hand washing in the fight against Covid 19 transmission, as we enter yet another wave and face an uncertain future of various levels freedom or lockdowns, the humble facemask is our main line of defence.
Health bodies worldwide are encouraging the wearing of masks and in many places masks are mandatory on public transport or inside communal spaces, some countries have even gone as far as mandating the wearing of masks on the street.

Some of us have been wearing masks from early on in the Covid crisis and some of us are just beginning to take them more seriously, there is also a growing group who refuse to wear them at all, but whether you are an old hand or new to the mask wearing community you may still have questions.

Will I be able to breathe in a mask at the gym? How do I stop my glasses fogging up? And how often do I need to change my mask?

When you first put on a mask it may feel odd, restrictive and even claustrophobic, don’t panic! There are people who wear masks successfully for may hours of their day, with a bit of time and practice you will be wearing a mask like a pro in no time.

Here are our hints and tips for successful mask wearing:

Will I be able to breath in a mask?

There is no evidence that wearing a face mask will reduce your blood oxygen levels, WHO states masks do not lead to CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency.

There are many YouTube clips showing how wearing a mask does not reduce oxygen supply, we love this one by Dr Maitiu O Tuathail in Dublin, who wears 6 masks whilst measuring his blood oxygen levels.
Wearing a mask at the gym may seem like a bad idea, but gyms can a great spot to spread the virus with all that heavy breathing, wearing a mask should not interfere with your oxygen intake whilst exercising but seek medical advice if you suffer from heart issues, COPD or other breathing difficulties.

Why do my glasses fog up when I wear a mask? 

As you breathe out, the warm air you exhale can seep out through the top edge of your mask and when it hits the relatively cold surface of your glasses it can cause them to fog up, although annoying, it can easily be dealt with.

How can I stop my glasses fogging up when wearing a mask?

You can prevent your glasses fogging up when wearing a mask by taking one of the following precautions
1.Use Soap and Water
2.Apply shaving foam
3.Use a demisting spray
4.Close the top gap of your mask
5.Wear contact lenses whilst wearing a mask

1.Use Soap and water

Before putting on your mask wash your glasses with a little soap and water - hand soap or washing up detergent will work - the soap will reduce the surface tension of your glasses preventing them from fogging up. This is a technique commonly used by scuba divers on their goggles.

2.Apply shaving foam

Apply a small amount of shaving foam to the inside of your glasses, then gently wipe of with a soft lint free cloth, the residue shaving foam will act similarly to the soap and water, preventing your glasses fogging up.

3.Use a demisting spray

You can apply a demisting spray to the inside of your glasses before applying a mask, make sure the de mister is suitable for eyeglasses as some can be abrasive.
The best thing about demisting spray is that they normally come in small bottles so you can easily take them with you and re apply when needed.

4.Close the top gap of your mask

As your glasses are being fogged up by your warm breath escaping from the top of your mask then sealing the top of your mask will prevent fogging.
Apply a strip of surgical tape to the top edge of your mask, we recommend 2.5cm width to allow for a good seal, you can buy this at any Pharmacy, or online.

5.Wear contact lenses whilst wearing a mask

Wearing contact lenses instead of glasses will prevent fogging, in fact not fogging up is one of the top reason people love about switching to contact lenses.
If you are a contact lenses wearer then try wearing your lenses during the times you wear a mask, and if you haven’t tried contact lenses yet, then this may be a great opportunity to discuss a contact lens trial with your optician or eye doctor.

As an added bonus, reducing the amount of times you need to touch and re-adjust your glasses whilst in public will reduce your infection risk.

How to use a mask safely?

If using a disposable or single use mask this should be thrown away after every use.
It is advised that you have at least 2 non disposable masks so that you can wash and dry your mask after each use.
As mask wearing is new to many of us it’s helpful to know the best methods for applying and removing your mask, the WHO has a great infographic, explaining how to safely apply, wear and remove your mask.

If you have to wear your mask for an extended period of time you may find it becomes uncomfortable particularly around the ears, you can alleviate this discomfort by sewing a button onto a bandana and hooking the elastic straps around that, or by hooking them around a ponytail, you can even pull the straps to the back of the head and hold in place with a paperclip.

Use of a barrier cream can help prevent chaffing on the face.

Wearing a face mask may be a little scary, uncomfortable and hard to get used to, but with a little practice and preparation you’ll soon wonder what all the fuss was about.

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 28 Jul 2020, Last modified: 31 Jan 2022