Prescription Dive and Snorkel Masks
One of the issues with scuba diving and snorkeling is that the masks can be a problem when you wear glasses and ruin the fun in or under the water. Depending on how strong your need for eye correction is you might not have to worry about it at all.
That is not true when you are far sighted and need reading glasses. You will need to be able to clearly read your gauges and that means that you somehow need to correct your reading vision while diving. For snorkeling that might not be true as you don’t have gauges to read that you’re safety depends on.
A dive mask will make any surrounding object around you appear larger and closer than they really are. If you’re just a little near sighted then this automatic correction of the scuba lenses might be enough so you can dive or snorkel without needing your glasses.
There are a few options available when you’re near sighted to be able to enjoy your dive or snorkeling.
Use your glasses
First, you can certainly wear your glasses and have some water drip into the mask. In many cases, it’ll end up being quite a lot of water as the skirt cannot create a tight seal with your skin. If your glasses have thin and flexible arms then it might work. Otherwise, the leaking will pretty much be unavoidable.
There are divers that will take an old pair of glasses and remove the arms of the glasses. Then you can place the glasses or your nose or mount them inside the mask. However, it will be a problem to keep the glasses in the right position and you can’t adjust them when you’re under water.
Another problem is that standard glasses tend to fog up and without being able to take the mask off to clean the glasses you’ll have a hard time to see anything.
Another approach is to use contact lenses. These can work ok but if you’re not careful you could lose them if you get water in your eyes while wearing them.
Some people have no problem wearing contacts in water while others cannot do that at all. If you can deal with it then it can be a great option for you.
One advantage you definitely have with contact is that they won’t fog up!
Glue Lenses into mask
One of the first possible solutions that was invented and at times is used until today is to glue corrective lenses onto the lenses of your mask. You will need to have special lenses created that have a flat surface on one side.
The side with the flat surface is what is glued against the flat lens of the mask. Most masks have flat glass so gluing the corrective lenses into the mask works pretty well.
The advantage of this method is that you can have the lenses match your prescription exactly including any other correction that is needed like astigmatism or even bifocals. You can glue them in the exact place you want and get excellent visibility that way.
One thing to be considered is that the lenses have to be in the right position in your mask. If they are not in the right spot then you can’t comfortably look out of your mask. Depending on the size of your head and the distance of your eyes, the lenses have to be glued in in the right location to make the mask work properly.
However, there are not only advantages to this method. One of the problems you can have is that sometimes these corrective lenses are very thick if you need a large correction of your eyesight. If you have glasses with more than five diopters and regular glass is used then the lenses will be very thick. As the lens needs to be flat on one side you end up with a large curve on the inside of your lens. Your visibility can get negatively impacted that way as you get a lot of distortion. Newer lenses for prescription glasses often use plastics which can be thinner and lighter and provide less of such an issue.
Another problem with glued in lenses is that they don’t have the same size and shape as the visor of your mask. This can make it quite difficult to effectively clean around the lenses. Eventually, you will have some dirt collect around the edge of the lens.
Using this approach is somewhat final for the mask you’re using. If you buy a new mask and it doesn’t fit you well then you usually will not be able to get your corrective lenses out again. You want to make sure that the mask will fit you well before you glue the lenses in. That way you make sure that it is the right mask for you. When you’re ready to have the lenses made and places you will have to find an optician that can handle that placement.
This is a reasonable approach to get a corrective dive or snorkel mask that will allow you to see clearly in the water!
Custom Prescription Dive or Snorkel Mask
If you buy a mask with split lenses, then it can be possible to replace the lenses in the mask with corrective lenses that are specific to your visibility needs. This does sound easier than it is as you have to get the corrective lenses to match exactly the lenses you replace.
On top of that, the lenses in high quality masks are made from tempered glass. You do not want to replace them with standard glass or with plastic lenses as they can break easier and cause injury if you have an accident under water.
This option also only works if you get a mask with a frame. Frameless masks usually have the skirt bonded to the lens and as such you can’t just replace the lens without basically destroying (or at least risking destroying) the mask itself.
Some dive stores specialize to help with finding a good mask and getting the lenses replaced. If you find a specialist, then this is a great option. However, you can’t typically get this done online for a cheap price!
Off-the-shelf Prescription Mask
These masks are specifically designed to have lenses with corrections. You can usually find them online as well as in dive shops for reasonable prices.
This option works really well if you can find lenses that match your correction needs closely. You will typically be able to get the lens corrections within 0.5 diopters. This might not provide perfect visibility but is usually a tremendous improvement over diving or snorkeling without correction at all.
What these off-the-shelf masks cannot fix is if you require severe astigmatic correction. If you require a slight astigmatic correction or have just minor trouble with nearsightedness yet require a severe correction to see in distance then you can consider this type of masks and fix the major visibility issue.
You will not get a perfect match for correction with these types of masks. However, they are cheaper and pretty quickly available and as such they are a great alternative to the other methods and approaches outlined above.
Best Off-the-Shelf Prescription Dive and Snorkel Masks
There are a number of different corrective dive and snorkel masks you can find online. These are easy to get and affordable.
This specific mask is designed and manufactured with high-quality materials and is in any way equivalent to a good dive mask you buy without corrective lenses. The lenses are tempered glass and you can get a variety of different corrections.
Promate included even bifocal choices with this mask. You can get the lenses for far or near sightedness and you can mix and match as needed. The increments are by half a diopter and you can get corrective lenses up to +4.0 and -10.0 diopter!
This mask is with no doubt an overall great scuba masks. Even if you don’t need corrective lenses this mask is a good buy!
Scuba Choice Corrective Mask for Nearsightedness
This mask provides options for corrective lenses for nearsightedness. There are no options for farsightedness or bifocals.
It is a well-designed mask made from good quality material. The lenses are tempered glass and work well.
People have mentioned that the mask leaks. You will have to make sure that this mask fits you and adjust as necessary to prevent any leakage!
In our opinion this is a good mask but it’s not as well designed and built as the Promate mask mentioned above.
This is another mask from Promate but it is more geared towards snorkeling. It is made from good quality material that are perfectly aligned with your requirements if you go snorkeling.
You can get corrective lenses for nearsightedness. The correction range is 0.0 to -10.0 diopter in 0.5 increments. The mask comes in a variety of colors and has a clear skirt to increase visibility to the edges.
For scuba diving we’d suggest to go with the above mentioned Promate scuba mask. This mask is great for snorkeling but you do only get corrective lenses for nearsightedness!
OceanReef offers an optional accessory that allows you to wear prescription lenses inside the Aria full face snorkel mask. You order the accessory and then have your prescription lenses fitted into the frames.
The advantage obviously is that you get perfectly matching lenses for your correction needs. Not only that, you’re able to use a full-face mask for snorkeling which in our opinion are superior as they provide better visibility and comfort.
If you are into snorkeling and need prescription glasses then this is pretty much the best choice there is. It’s not useful in any way for scuba diving though. You can even try (usually successful) to combine the accessory with other full face snorkel masks.
There are a number of options available for both snorkeling and scuba diving with regards to prescription lenses. Typically the best are to use off-the-shelf masks with optical corrections as close to your needs as possible.
For snorkeling you definitely want to have a closer look at the OceanReef Aria with the lens support accessory. You get perfectly matched lenses and combine them with a full face snorkel mask. It’s hard to imagine a better combination for snorkeling.
Scuba divers should have a closer look at the Promate scuba diving mask. It offers many lens options and by itself is a high quality mask.
Have a great time on your next dive or snorkel trip!