How do you Scuba Dive if you wear glasses or contact lenses?
The best way to dive if you need to wear glasses is either to wear contact lenses or invest in a prescription lens diving mask. These dive masks can be expensive so wearing contact lenses is the most cost-effective and flexible solution.
If you wear glasses or know somebody who does, you’re probably wondering if you can Scuba dive. The answer is yes! Of course! However it would be rather tricky to scuba dive while literally wearing glasses, so we have to look at other options!
Maybe you have always had glasses, or started to need them in your adult life.
Luckily, Scuba diving is a very inclusive sport, allowing all ages, shapes and sizes to get in the water. Therefore requiring glasses and contact lenses is not something that will prevent you from experiencing the magnificent underwater world.
We are lucky that there are options to be able to see more clearly underwater. This is much safer than simply taking off your glasses and submerging!
In this article, Refraction will be explained, along with the two options to Scuba dive while requiring visual aid.
- Prescription lenses in Scuba masks
- Disposable contact lenses
- Contact lenses and the sea
On your Open Water Course, one of the first processes you’ll have learnt about is Refraction. This is where light is bent by water molecules, making objections look 33% larger and 25% closer.
This can be hardly noticeable for those of you with ‘perfect’ vision, however, will likely benefit those of you who are nearsighted.
Talk to an Instructor at your local dive centre if this is the case for you, and they can help you decide if a normal Scuba diving mask will be enough.
If refraction does not aid your vision, then take a look at the two options available to allow you to Scuba dive with your vision intact! Would there be much point in Scuba diving if the incredible marine life were just blurry dots floating around in front of you?
Not to forget the dangers that come with being unable to see your pressure gauge, depth or no decompression time.
Prescription lenses in Scuba masks
It is possible to buy scuba masks with drop-in lenses or high-index glass lenses, making scuba diving a lot more comfortable for people with glasses.
As mentioned before, you cannot wear your glasses under your mask. Those of you who have never scuba dived, might be wondering why not?
Why can you not just wear your glasses under your mask?
When wearing your scuba mask, you create a seal around your eyes and nose, keeping a volume of air inside while keeping the water out. Wearing glasses would break the seal, allowing water to seep in.
This is not dangerous but can be hugely irritating and you’ll waste air constantly clearing your mask.
It would also be quite difficult to reposition your glasses on your nose while your face is in a scuba mask! Not ideal.
Overcoming this issue is easy! Buying a dive mask with prescription lenses converts the mask into an underwater pair of glasses! The type of lenses you need in your mask will depend on your current prescription.
Depending on the type of lenses, these masks can be much more expensive than a normal scuba mask. Therefore, make sure you try it on and that you are happy with the fit before purchasing.
Check out some prescription masks here.
The last thing you want is an expensive but leaky and uncomfortable mask.
It is also possible to get bifocal lenses, which stick on to the inside of the mask, correcting your vision in only a part of the lens.
Bifocal lenses are great to enable some divers to see things up-close, such as your dive computer, SPG or a friendly fish!
Disposable contact lenses
Disposable contact lenses have some advantages over prescription masks, such as comfort, practicality and affordability.
Contact lenses can be advantageous over prescription masks because they are a lot cheaper. Buying a prescription mask can be a big investment, depending on the type of lenses required.
Not only is it costly, but it can also be slightly impractical.
Contact lenses, however, can help you see all the time, even when your mask is not on. This can be handy walking to the boat, being on the boat before and after the dive.
Yes, of course, you can just wear your glasses until you put your mask on, but that’s another thing to worry out. Wearing contacts and a normal mask removes the stress of switching between glasses and a mask and keeping your glasses safe on the boat during the dive.
(I wear glasses all the time but I switch to contact lenses when I’m diving, it just makes things easier.)
Wearing contact lenses also allows you to buy any mask you would like. This opens up the possibilities of different shapes, sizes and prices.
If you wear contact lenses and you lose your mask, you can easily use your backup or borrow one from your buddy. If you lose your prescription mask or it breaks during the dive, you’re not in a good position!
Soft vs. Hard contact lenses
There is some evidence, that soft contact lenses are safer and more comfortable to dive with than hard lenses. This is because hard lenses are more rigid, smaller and gas cannot penetrate.
Rare occasions have occurred where bubbles form in the space between the cornea and the hard contact lens. This bubble can cause blurry vision, which can be uncomfortable and dangerous.
Divers have also reported that hard contact lenses are tougher, making their eyes feel dry after a dive. Another benefit of soft lenses is that they have a larger circumference. This allows them to stay in your eyes more easily, in the event of your mask flooding.
But to easily avoid this, if your mask floods, just close your eyes! (Until you expertly clear it of course!)
Contact lenses and the Sea
Your eyes and contact lenses are protected against the water by your mask. If water does seep into your mask, close your eyes and clear it.
The first thing that probably comes to mind when you think about contact lenses and scuba diving, is “will the water damage the contact lens?”
Without anything in your eyes, most people can easily open their eyes in the ocean without any issues. You can’t see very clearly, but you can make out shapes and colours.
As it is usually advised not to get your contact lenses wet, we usually do not encourage people with contact lenses to do this.
The only time you should ever take your mask off underwater is to complete a mask skill during a course or to change to another if yours is broken or fogging up.
If you wear contact lenses while scuba diving, you should therefore make sure you close your eyes to avoid any water touching the contact lens. Almost the entire dive, your eyes will be protected from the water with your mask. But, in case it gets knocked off or you need to switch it, make sure your eyes are closed!
Closing your eyes should not be a problem while completing a mask skill, just be aware of your depth! Tell your instructor or dive buddy before touching your mask, so they can keep an eye on your while you do the skill or swap the masks.
You should always tell your dive buddy or guide if you are unable to see without your contact lenses, glasses or prescription mask. They can therefore be aware of any potential risks if you lose your prescription mask, a contact lens falls out or you need to switch with your glasses on the boat.
Remember to discuss a hand signal with your buddy during the buddy check for “I can’t see!”. You can therefore feel comfortable that your buddy will be able to assist you safely to the surface if you lose your vision for any reason.
Don’t Forget Your Dive Insurance!
Before you go out on any dive trip or holiday, it is essential to make sure you have insurance that covers you if something goes wrong. Check out our dive insurance article for more information.
Or go straight to these dive insurance company websites:
As mentioned before, Scuba diving is a very inclusive sport! Even though you wear glasses, you still have a couple of options to ensure the underwater world is accessible to you.
Exploring the underwater world is an incredible experience. You can witness marine life that some people only dream of seeing, Therefore to make sure you don’t miss anything, ensure you are happy with your choice, and that you can see well underwater.
Not only do you not want to miss out on the awesome marine life, but you also need to be able to see well for safety. Make sure you can see your computer to track your depth, no decompression time, the air left in your tank on your pressure gauge and your buddy!
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