Finding solutions for foggy eye protection

By Tracey Turriff

For well over a year, frontline home care staff have been wearing extra personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing care to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a survey to learn about the experience of Personal Support and Nursing staff providing care while wearing masks and either face shields or goggles, VHA Home HealthCare (VHA)’s Research team discovered that nearly 70 per cent of the PSWs and nurses who responded indicated that their goggles and face shields regularly get foggy and that this makes it harder to do their job.

“Our goal is create knowledge that will enable better care for our clients and lead to safer teams of providers” says Emily King, Manager, Research Operations at VHA. “When we realized so many of our nurses and PSWs couldn’t safely provide care because they couldn’t see what they were doing, we knew we needed to find a solution.”


The team started by looking for ideas others might have tried for similar issues. They found medical professionals, swimmers and scuba divers who had shared their remedies, and treatments hockey and ringette players had used for similar challenges with head protection. “I tested 14 solutions and narrowed it down to 3 that seemed to work particularly well. I then ran additional tests on those, including diluting them and wearing eye protection for a longer duration after applying the solution,” shares Huda Ameer, Research Assistant. “We then reached out to nurses and PSWs to ask them to test the top remedies during care for a real-life test of how the solutions worked and whether they were practical to use.”

Ten personal support and nursing staff acted as field testers trying out each of the 3 treatments while providing client care, and then shared their experiences. The field testing led to a clear solution. The PSW and nursing testers recommend the use of Dawn dish soap or Live Clean baby shampoo to help everyone see clearly during client care.

“The dish soap Dawn is so easy to use,” says PSW Veronica Foisy. “I work in a retirement home and after applying it once it lasted for a full eight-hour shift with four showers.” And PSW Coach Joie Francisco shared “I have tried and tested the product in an extremely hot shower. The baby shampoo (Live Clean) gives clear vision for up to three clients.”

Based on these field tests by personal support and nursing staff and their recommendations to their colleagues, we then set about sharing and scaling this solution.

“Financed by VHA’s Ideas to Innovation Fund, we rolled out over 2,200 anti-fogging kits to our front line teams,” says Head of Innovation Engagement, Pam Stoikopoulos.

“The response has been very positive,” Emily adds. “So far most people are telling us that this solution is working for them. We expect health care providers at other organizations are also experiencing these issues and we hope this will help them as well.”

All the findings are available on the VHA Research website at www.vha.ca/research/safer-teams/solutions-to-prevent-fogging-of-face-shields-and-goggles. Our partners at the Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease (CREOD) are also helping to spread the word. Further information is also available by reaching out to researchhelp@vha.ca.

Tracey Turriff is the Senior Communications & PR Manager, VHA Home HealthCare.