Many people who wear prescription glasses to correct their vision shy away from hobbies such as Scuba Diving, or will dive without their glasses or any form of optical correction, taking away one of the best things about Scuba Diving, the sights. In order to best experience the underwater realm a diver should be able to spot that shark or barracuda circling curiously in the distance, or spot that tiny nudibranch or harlequin shrimp and be able to move in for a closer look. Being able to see perfectly is also important from a diver safety perspective from minor tasks like being able to read your console gauges, to being able to properly see the expressions and hand signals of your dive buddy or instructor can make the world of a difference in an emergency situation. Spotting things underwater is hard enough as it is for a diver with perfect vision, so what are the alternatives for divers requiring corrected vision while scuba diving?
For starters, you may just not need any lens correction if you are myopic or near-sighted and have low powered prescription glasses. This is because water has a tendency to magnify objects by up to 33% larger/closer underwater due to refraction. So if you have only slightly corrected vision, you may be able to see just fine underwater.
For divers that require lens corrections, one of the easy options is getting yourself prescription lens fitted scuba diving masks. Prescription Lens fitted masks are becoming increasingly popular with several opticians offering custom fitted prescription lenses as inserts into swimming goggles or scuba masks. You can also get corrective lens compatible masks offered by the mask manufacturers themselves buy the lens according to your needs and have it fitted into the mask at the dive store itself. Many manufacturers also offer special masks for those that require bifocals or correction for astigmatism.
Prescription masks are often expensive, but if properly maintained will last the user a considerable amount of time and may be well worth the investment.
If you dive infrequently or just don’t want to spring for a prescription mask, you could always check with your local dive operator before you set out, to see if they stock prescription masks that can be rented along with your dive gear, and save you the trouble and cost of purchasing your own set. However we recommend that you buy yourself a prescription mask, as very often a dive gear rental shops may not stock these masks or may not have one that suits your vision requirements.
One of the best most cost effective solutions to diving with prescription glasses is to use soft disposable contact lenses underwater. Disposable soft contact lenses work brilliantly underwater, and are one of the more easily available and cost friendly options. The main benefit that contact lenses provide is that of being able to use them both on the surface as well as in the water, making them extremely popular with the eyeglass wearing diver community. Though there is always the risk of them occasionally floating away should you take off or clean your mask underwater, many still swear by contact lenses and have completed numerous dives without ever losing one. Still, make sure you keep those eyes closed while clearing your diving mask underwater, and carry along an extra set just in case. Always check first with your optometrist if you can dive with your contact lenses, and what kind and power should you use.