The other day I was rummaging around in my desk drawer searching for Cat Crap. Before you say, “Yecch,” let me explain.Cat Crap—an attention-getting brand name if there ever was one—is a wax-like product that you apply to eyeglass lenses to prevent them from fogging up. My glasses tend to fog up when I put on my face mask and venture outside, a problem many of us are encountering since the pandemic began. I figured a dab of Cat Crap would do the trick, and indeed it did, as you can see.
It’s no surprise, then, that Cat Crap, which has long been popular with skiers, swimmers and other goggle-wearers, is now being discovered by vast numbers of people looking for a way to de-fog their eyeglasses and face shields. I contacted the manufacturer of Cat Crap, EK USA, to find out how the public’s recent interest in anti-fog products is impacting sales.
“I have been with the company for almost 26 years and have never seen anything like this,” said Cort Saxton, sales manager for the Logan, Utah-based company, which has marketed Cat Crap for over 30 years and has several U.S. distributors in multiple industries and over 40 international distributors. “Orders from our industrial resellers and retail optical partners have been extraordinary, and the demand continues to ramp up with no sign of slowing,” Saxton said, though he declined to provide specifics.
“EK USA is proud to provide a proven made in USA solution for this particular problem,” he added.
Cat Crap is available as both a paste and
as a spray, and can be used to defog
eyeglasses, ski goggles, swim goggles,
face shields, and binocular lenses.
By now, you may be wondering how they came up with the name Cat Crap. Saxton offers this anecdote.
In the mid-1980s the founder and current owner of EK USA, Ed Kalbach, had a ski shop in Logan, Utah and sold tons of cat eye style sunglasses. Ed invented the original cord and tubing style eyeglass retainer called the Cat Strap—which is extremely popular to this day—and EK USA was born. With the success of the Cat Strap, Ed recognized there was a lot of demand for eyewear accessories and soon developed an anti-fog lens cleaner solution. He wondered ‘what am I going to call this crap?’ With the popularity of the cat eye style at the time he settled on Cat Crap.
“With a catchy name and a truly effective solution Cat Crap soon became the number one choice for skiers and snowboarders to use on their goggles. Over time word spread, and the effectiveness of the anti-fog solution with a funny name expanded. Users found that Cat Crap works well on any virtually any surface to clean and significantly reduce fogging.”
If you want to see Cat Crap in action, watch this video.
A number of optical companies also offer anti-fog products or processes, and are stepping up their efforts to help customers meet the sharply increasing demand for them. Here’s a partial rundown of what’s available.
Dynamic Labs offers a couple of anti-fog products. Premium AR Fog Stopper is a liquid designed specifically for anti-reflective coated lenses. Purity Fog Stopper comes in a spray bottle and is formulated “to eliminate fog and condensation during the worst temperature and humidity extremes.”
Dynamic Labs' Premium Anti-Fog Stopper.
Essilor also has more than one way to fight fog. As Jeff Harrell, Essilor’s senior director, product marketing pointed out, “The need for anti-fog products, which were until recently considered niche products for hobbyists and a few vertical markets, has skyrocketed in the COVID environment and consumed the minds of not just first responders and medical professionals, but now the general population. In our efforts to help customers capture this demand we have a portfolio of anti-fog lens solutions such as IC No-Fog Elite and Optifog that ECPs can offer to their patients. As practices reopen and more consumers are wearing masks as the new normal, our partners have access to the Essilor portfolio of solutions through their sales consultants.”
Hilco Vision offers a simple solution in the form OptiPlus+ Anti-fog Wipes, which it says are “the perfect solution to
lenses fogging up, especially while wearing face masks.” OptiPlus+ Anti-fog Wipes let eyeglass wearers see clearly at their doctor’s office, shopping, home or in the workplace, driving, doing inside/outside activities and more, according to Hilco Vision.
OptiPlus+ Anti-fog Wipes.
OptiSource's Fog Free is an anti-fog lens cleaner that is safe and effective on non-AR coated lenses and medical goggles. Available in a spray bottle, the solution has anti-streak and anti-static properties, while it cleans and defogs in one simple step.
Schneider Optical Machines can upgrade a Schneider EBC machine to produce anti-fog coated lenses. The company uses a physical process to produce a long-term and reliable coating layer instead of relying on chemicals that only provide a short-term effect and can cause allergic reactions with the end user and smeared lenses. The coating provides a clear view for all ophthalmic lenses, sun lenses, sports lenses and visors, Schneider said. It can even be used to produce anti-fog lenses with individual branding.
“All you need to get started is a small upgrade,” explained Tobias Schneider, the company’s marketing chief. “The anti-fog process can be run on a Schneider EBC coater. All it takes is a minimal upgrade comprising the installation of an ion beam source for ion beam sputtering and the implementation of the process. Schneider provides the technology and the consumables necessary such as the targets and the anti-fog wipes.
OptiSource's Fog Free.
"To preserve the anti-fog protection and easy to clean properties, the glasses simply have to be treated with a specially developed wipe after cleaning and rinsing,” he noted, adding that the anti-fog process may be installed and run on other coating systems. The Schneider team will check the technical feasibility to install and run Schneider anti-fog on those systems.
To learn more about Schneider’s anti-fog technology, watch this video. More information is available here.
Lenses with and without Schneider's anti-fog coating.
Shamir Insight has developed a technology called Shamir Glacier Anti-Fog, that permanently prevents the build-up of vapor on the lens without any type of activator or rejuvenation spray. The coating itself initially developed for athletes in 2018. With the outbreak of COVID-19, Shamir has accelerated manufacturing to launch the product within the coming weeks, rather than at the end of the year, as originally planned.
Shamir will donate to charity a portion of proceeds from the sales of Glacier Anti-Fog. More information is available at www.whenvisionmatters.com.
For do-it-yourselfers, there's also the simple hack of inserting a folded tissue along the inside top of your mask. Optician Zahra Lavji explains how to do it in this video.
To wrap up, I’ll offer you another type of anti-fog solution: Judy Garland’s 1969 rendition of “A Foggy Day”. Garland’s powerful yet sensitive treatment of this George and Ira Gershwin classic is sure to lift the haze wherever you are and brighten your day.