The Maskfog Factor

Eyeglasses and masks really don’t go together.  The masks cause warm, moist air — i.e., the air that just was exhaled from your warm, moist mouth and lungs — up onto the lenses of your glasses.  The result?  Fogged glasses, and the familiar embarrassing, blinded, stumbling sensation that the bespectacled among us really hate.

jimmyBefore anyone jumps down my throat, I’m not suggesting that fogging is a reason not to wear a mask.  Masks are a basic precaution when you’re going into an enclosed area during the global pandemic, and people should wear them in public places.

But I am saying that foggy glasses are unpleasant and a pain in the rear.  And there doesn’t seem to be a good response to the maskfog factor.  When I donned my first mask and experienced my first maskfog, I checked the internet for suggestions on how to deal with the issue.  I found pages like this one.  I tried the suggested approaches, I really did.  I pinched the nose of my mask until it felt like a binder clip on the bridge of my nose.  I tried using my glasses to “seal” my mask.  Neither of those approaches worked.  I admittedly didn’t try taping the mask down, because I don’t know how to do that, and in any case it doesn’t seem like a practical solution for the instances where you put on a mask to enter a commercial establishment and remove it when you leave the place.  And “soap and water” typically isn’t readily available in that scenario, either, unless you’re supposed to keep a supply with you at all times.

So I appeal to the glasses wearers out there.  Have you found a way to solve the maskfog dilemma?  If so, I’d definitely be interested in hearing it.

If You Want To Seem Smarter, Listen To Your Mom

If you want to seem smarter to your co-workers and new acquaintances, what should you do?  According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, a growing body of research shows that you would do well to listen to your inner Mom and follow her advice.

Raise your hand if you remember your Mom telling you to sit up straight and look her in the eyes when you were talking.  It turns out that those are two of the visual clues people focus on in deciding whether a person speaking is intelligent.  It’s not hard to understand why people have that reaction:  those who slouch look slothful and undisciplined and speakers who don’t make eye contact seem shifty and deceptive, whereas people who sit up straight and look you in the eye seem engaged, interested, direct, and honest — all qualities that are associated with intelligence.

According to the article, other behaviors that projected intelligence included having self-confidence, being responsive in conversation and not over-talking, using clear language and not unnecessary big words, and — and this is a key one — admitting it when you don’t know something and asking for help rather than trying to fake it.  You can bet that, in most situations, your audience will include someone who knows that you’re just trying to bluff your way through and your credibility will take a hit.

Oh, and one other cliche actually turns out to be right:  the research shows that observers inevitably conclude that people who wear eyeglasses are smarter.  No word, though, on whether darker frames are correlated with higher presumed IQ.

Eyesight Fail

I’ve worn glasses for as long as I can remember.  I think I got my first pair when I was in first grade, and I’ve worn them ever since.

For years, my eyesight declined gradually, but inexorably.  When I was a kid our optometrist gave me a rubbery softball with letters on it; I was supposed to attach it to a string, hang it from the ceiling, and let it sway around as I tried to identify the letters moving past.  This was supposed to strengthen my eye muscles, or something.  It was incredibly boring to do, so I went outside and played with my friends instead and the ball went into a drawer to gather dust.

When I hit 40, my vision decline seemed to stop.  It didn’t get better, but it didn’t get any worse.  Every few years my glasses would get too scratched to see through clearly, and I’d go to a storefront optical shop for a check-up and a new pair.  My prescription stayed pretty much the same, and the main challenge was picking out a new pair of glasses.  As any eyeglasses wearer knows, optical stores are filled with photos of rugged looking guys and high-fashion women wearing dark, dramatic frames that would look ridiculous on most chubby American faces — including mine.  After a split-second of indecision, I’d just get a new pair that looked like my old pair.

Once I turned 55 earlier this year, however, my eyesight seemed to hit the wall.  With my glasses on, I simply could not focus on the words on a printed page.  When your job involves lots of reading, this can be a problem.  It got to the point where it was easier to remove my glasses and bring the text embarrassingly close to my face.  When I went to the optometrist, he confirmed that my ability to focus on nearby items has deteriorated significantly.  He says constant use of a computer terminal may be to blame, but it’s probably just the effect of age.  Ugh.

I’ve got my new prescription and new glasses, and I can read again — for now.  My most recent pair of glasses now join the pile of old glasses in my desk drawer.

If only I’d used that softball!

The Innate Studliness Of Eyeglasses

Every once in a while a news story announces the results of a study and the results are so outlandish, and so contrary to normal human experience, that you wonder whether there was some problem with how the study was designed or conducted.  So it is with a new study, funded by the vision care division of Johnson & Johnson, that finds that kids between 6 and 11 who wear contact lens have better self-perception than kids who wear glasses.  The study, led by a doctor from The Ohio State University College of Optometry, somehow found that kids who use contacts were more satisfied with their appearance and their ability to participate in sports and other events.

Huh?  Does anyone really believe that kids who wear glasses aren’t the envy of every other kid in the neighborhood?  We all know that people associate glasses with innate studliness and a carefree, devil-may-care charm.  And how could kids with contacts have more self-confidence when it comes to athletic events?  After all, who wouldn’t want to play contact sports wearing flimsy glass and plastic devices that will be broken into smithereens by even an indirect hit?  Another obvious advantage to glasses is that boys can advertise their manliness by wearing spectacles that are held together by scotch tape at the bridge of the nose or the corner of the frame, thereby transmitting a powerful subliminal message to all that the glasses were broken in some ultra-masculine pursuit.  And who wouldn’t want to develop the fine motor skills needed to try to replace the tiny screws that hold eyeglass frames together?  What right-thinking kid would want to turn down the chance to display the rakish bonhomie seen whenever a kid comes inside on a frigid day wearing glasses that immediately became hopelessly befogged?  In short, why would anyone want to look like a normal person rather than some goggle-eyed freak?

You really have to wonder about these studies sometimes.

Fog On The Spectacles

Recently, the weather has taken a sharp turn in a much colder direction.   This change has brought about one of the worst drawbacks to wearing glasses — the annoying fogging phenomenon that occurs when the glasses-wearer walks from frigid climes into a warm room, the lenses turn to milk, and the blinded nerd stumbles aimlessly until some kind of equilibrium is reached and the glasses once again allow, rather than prevent, clear sight.

I’ve worn glasses since I was in first grade, and they have their good and bad aspects.  The drawbacks of glasses are many and well-recognized.  When I was a kid, and glasses actually were made of glass, they didn’t really facilitate aggressive participation in contact sports.  It’s not easy to crowd the plate when your brain conjures mental images of an inside pitch shattering your spectacles and lacerating your eyeballs.  If the frames of your glasses got broken — and they inevitably did — your beleagured Mom was likely to patch them up with scotch tape.  Several of the school photos of UJ and me feature us sporting taped-up, horn-rimmed glasses.  It was, candidly, not a good look.  And the reality is that glasses are never a positive fashion statement.  No one with 20-20 eyesight decides that no-prescription glasses would enhance their appearance.  This is why the large blow-up photos found on the walls in an “eye center” are so misleading.  I’m convinced that none of the laughing skinny 20-somethings or the smiling, rugged 40-year-old outdoorsmen shown wearing the latest optical fashions really need glasses.  (They never show them wearing fogged glasses, either.)

Still, to my mind there is one central, dispositive positive aspect to glasses.  If your eyesight is poor, there are only two alternatives to wearing glasses — being unable to see anything clearly, or either regularly sticking something into your eye or paying some mass-marketing practitioner to perform “laser surgery” on the most important of your five senses.  I’ll take glasses — even occasionally fogged glasses — over those alternatives any day.