Lens fogging torments safety managers and workers across multiple industries, including food processing, refrigeration, construction, health care, research laboratories, automotive, manufacturing, utilities, and more.
Many factors can lead to lens fogging, including:
- Transitions between warm and cool environments
- Heat and humidity from the environment
- Worker exertion
- Wearing face masks and eyewear together
- Daily lens cleaning that compromises applied anti-fog solutions
Unfortunately, fogged safety glasses and goggles trigger many workers to ditch their vision protection, which can lead to compliance issues and injuries.
It’s Clear to See; You Can’t Win When Your Eyewear Fogs Up
Fogged lenses cause blurred vision, which can be dangerous and lead to serious jobsite injuries. Think about it. What do workers naturally do if they can’t see through their safety glasses? While uttering a few choice words of frustration, most workers will quickly remove their vision protection to see what’s in front of them. This automatic and sudden reflex often leaves workers’ eyes unprotected and vulnerable to injuries from airborne particulate matter, dropped objects, chemical splash, and more.
Furthermore, if the worker is super diligent and keeps the fogged eyewear on, he or she could easily slip, trip, fall or experience a struck-by object accident. It’s clear to see; you really can’t win when your eyewear fogs up.
During the pandemic, Industrial fogging concerns have skyrocketed from workers continuously wearing face masks and eye protection together. The increased fogging challenges negatively impacting people today have renewed interest in anti-fog solutions and coatings.
Popular types of temporary and semi-permanent anti-fogging treatments
Anti-fog solutions come in many forms, including temporary and long-lasting semi-permanent solutions, which are as follows:
- Anti-Fog Wipes or Pre-moistened Towelettes
- Waxes, Creams, Drops, and Gels
- Films and Coatings
Anti-fog wipes, frequently packaged for single-use, often do double duty by cleaning your glasses while covering them with the anti-fog solution. Dirty safety glasses with oily smudges can impair vision, and wipes are a convenient on-the-go solution.
Anti-fog sprays, like wipes, are easy for workers to put in their pockets as many come in travel-size packaging. Just spray a fine mist to both sides of your glasses, face shield, or goggles and let the mist completely dry for a minute or two before wearing. Users may have to spray each side more than once, depending on the spray chosen.
Anti-fog gels frequently come in kits that include a microfiber lens cloth to wipe away the gel after spreading it in a thin layer on the safety eyewear. While gels are not as easy to use on the go, they can provide good results.
Wipes, sprays, and gels are considered temporary solutions as they need to be reapplied after they wear off. Depending on the product, their application can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Films and coatings are the more permanent types of anti-fog solutions. Premium fog-resistant coatings are applied during the manufacturing process by building the coating into the lens, as is the case with the Radians® IQuity™ Intelligent Anti-Fog coating.
Watch Radians Video on IQuity Anti-Fog Technology
Fog-Free Through Technology
Anti-fog technology has advanced to help safety pros mitigate the fogging issues that exasperate workers and interfere with their vision. Coatings that meet the demanding ANSI Z87.1-2020 standard and the EN166K standard in Europe are gaining traction in safety programs. The ANSI 2020 edition now includes testing, performance, and markings for anti-fog lenses.
Two important anti-fog coatings are:
- Hydrophobic coatings
- Hydrophilic coatings
Solvent-based Hydrophobic Coatings — Repels Water Causing it to Bead-Up and Slide Off the Lens
Hydrophobic anti-fog coatings are “water-repelling,” soap-based coatings that force water droplets to bead up and slide off the surface. This coating is often toxic during the application process, so it’s not as environmentally friendly as a hydrophilic coating. Nor does it last as long as a hydrophilic coating because the solvent tends to wash or rub off when cleaning your safety glasses.
Although hydrophobic coatings aren’t permanent anti-fog solutions, they have a place in safety programs and are used in many other areas, including power plants, cooling systems, and electronics. Sometimes, safety pros don’t need a long-term anti-fog solution, which is often the case at hospitals and clinics where the eyewear is disposed of or not worn for long periods.
Safety glasses or goggles with hydrophobic anti-fog coatings are often purchased for short-term or temporary workers on special projects or events. For example, a large workforce or seasonal work would be a good fit for anti-fog safety glasses with a hydrophobic coating.
Non-toxic Hydrophilic Coatings — Attracts Water and Spreads it Evenly Across the Lens
Hydrophilic anti-fog coatings were developed from studies in nanoscience and nanotechnology and are often made with proprietary chemistry that creates a polymer bond, permanently adhering the coating to the polycarbonate lens. This type of coating has “water-loving” properties that absorb moisture and cause the individual water droplets to disperse evenly, forming a thin coating that releases the moisture at the edge of the lenses. A hydrophilic coating keeps water droplets from becoming big enough to be seen as fog. They are not soap- or solvent-based, so this non-toxic coating doesn’t wash off as easily as hydrophobic coatings.
Built-in hydrophilic coatings have a longer wear cycle and shelf life when compared to hydrophobic coatings. Radians’ IQuity anti-fog coating is an example of a hydrophilic coating, a premium coating with a long-life cycle, making it a cost-effective vision protection solution over the long term. In addition to IQuity’s anti-fog properties, this multi-purpose premium coating is also resistant to abrasion, chemicals, scratches, and smudges. Radians’ IQuity anti-fog coating meets the ANSI Z87.1-2020 anti-fog standard, making it an excellent choice for extreme anti-fog situations. Radians offers several styles of vision protection with IQuity anti-fog coating.
Do You Need Longer Lifespan Solutions in Your Anti-fog Eyewear?
When battling fogging and the impaired vision that comes with it, nothing is 100% permanent when it comes to the different anti-fog solutions. However, premium semi-permanent hydrophilic coatings, like IQuity, are important because they offer longer use when compared to traditional anti-fog alternatives, which can save you money over time.
Always make sure your selection of anti-fog eyewear meets the ANSI Z87.1-2020 Standard. And, by choosing anti-fog safety eyewear that’s comfortable and stylish, you’ll encourage workers to keep those goggles and glasses on their faces and not in their hands.
We know there’s a lot to consider when evaluating your vision protection needs. ABATIX partners with top suppliers like Radians to provide you with excellent eye protection solutions. Contact us today!