The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging people to ‘mask up’ to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
In Victoria, the Government has made it mandatory for people over the age of 12, to wear masks or face coverings when in the community. National advice is to wear a mask or face covering in areas of community transmission where social distancing is difficult.
Spectacle lenses with a specialised anti-fog lens coating prevents the back surface of the lens from fogging up while wearing a mask
“Wearing a face covering will help reduce community transmission – which is what everyone wants, the sooner people ‘mask up’ in areas of community transmission, the sooner we will get on top of this virus,” says Chair RACGP Victoria Dr Cameron Loy
Avoid the Fog
Many consumers who wear spectacle lenses or shields are reluctant to wear masks or face coverings because they find their lenses fog up, impairing vision.
Fog is created when warm air hits a cool surface, causing condensation to form. When wearing a mask, warm air from the mouth and nose escapes through the top of the mask and hits the cooler spectacle lenses which causes this fogging.
Shamir Australia Chief Executive Officer Paul Stacey, says optometrists can assist their patients by recommending lenses with an anti-fog coating.
“Spectacle lenses with a specialised anti-fog lens coating prevents the back surface of the lens from fogging up while wearing a mask. This is a sensible option to offer patients now that we are increasingly likely to be wearing masks into the foreseeable future.
“Even outside the pandemic environment, anti-fog lenses make sense as they ensure clear and comfortable vision for sports, during activities where safety glasses are required, and even while wearing medical/hygiene masks to,” he added.
Shamir Australia’s sister company, Shamir OHS, which distributes prescription and non-prescription safety eyewear, recently donated eyewear to medical staff at St Andrew War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane.
“To combat the issue of spectacles fogging while wearing surgical/hygiene masks, we offered medical staff working directly with patients a complimentary pair of spectacles fitted with Shamir lenses and applied with Shamir Glacier anti-fog lens coating, a permanent, long term and hassle-free solution that prevents spectacles fogging up.
“Medical staff without the need for prescription lenses were offered certified safety eyewear with anti-fog protection from the Shamir OHS Eyres range… We wanted to ensure staff have clear and comfortable vision so they can focus clearly when working directly with patients or the task at hand.”
Options to recommend to patients to minimise / avoid lens fogging include:
• Wear spectacles with an anti-fog coating on the lens
• Wash your lenses with soapy water and shake off the excess liquid, then allow them to air dry or gently wipe them off with a soft cloth. The thin film that the soap leaves behind will act as a fog barrier,
• Wear contact lenses, taking into consideration the need for careful contact lens hygiene,
• Wear a mask with a nose bridge, or one that is shaped to fit the face, to prevent warm air from escaping through the top of the mask,
• Pull the mask up higher on the nose, then spectacles to seal it and shape it to the face – again, this will prevent warm air from escaping through the top of the mask, and
• Tape the mask down around the bridge of the nose and across the cheeks, using sports or medical tape that is manufactured for use on the skin.
Victoria Mask Exemptions
While most people are able to wear a face covering, there are some who will have a legitimate reason not to. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services lists lawful exemptions for not wearing a face covering, which include those under 12, medical conditions such as those that may impact breathing, where there is a condition of the face, a disability or mental health concern, or if you’re doing certain exercises, including, running and cycling.
While there is no obligation for GPs to provide this, the RACGP has produced a letter template for GPs to use when they feel that their patient has a legitimate need to not wear a face covering and they may benefit from having this documented.
Dr Loy said GPs cannot provide ‘exemptions’ and can only provide their assessment of their patient’s medical conditions which may mean they cannot wear a face covering.
“GPs should use these letters wisely, as with all medical certificates. It is for the greater public health good that all those who can wear a face covering, do.
“In these difficult times when we are seeing community transmission in many places, we all need to do our bit.
“Whenever you leave your home, remember to mask up – this is about protecting yourself, your loved ones and everyone else in our community.
“And remember a face mask or covering is not a suit of armour against COVID-19 – people still need to follow the other advice to stay safe, including maintaining a physical distance of 1.5m from others, regular hand washing, and cough and sneezing into your elbow.”