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Diving with glasses and contact lenses

Scuba diver in ScubaPro gear underwater

Diving with glasses and contact lenses

Wearing glasses or contact lenses is common for those with less than perfect vision.

However, now you might be asking if you can go scuba diving with glasses on, whether your contact lenses will be affected by salt water, or how your vision is affected underwater.

Let’s look at options for divers requiring visual aids and how we can make sure you can see everything clearly on your next dive.

We also include 7 options for optical lenses and corrective scuba masks!

Can I scuba dive with glasses on?

You cannot wear glasses underneath your scuba mask as this will prevent the mask from sealing tightly around your face and start leaking. Even smaller glasses could lead to difficulties when the pressure rises at depth. Instead, divers can use prescription scuba masks or sometimes contact lenses.

Glasses and scuba masks don’t go well together and in general, you can only wear one or the other.

Moreover, you don’t want to place your scuba tank on it when taking off your equipment.

Instead, there are two main options to choose from:

Prescription Dive Mask

Prescription dive masks include special corrective lenses that are optimized for your specific eyesight. There are some that have replaceable lenses, while others are fixed.

The advantage is that you always have the perfect prescription lenses underwater.

You will find some recommendations for prescription dive masks below!

Scuba diver face behind mask blowing bubbles
Dive masks with prescription will give you back your vision underwater.

Prescription Lense Inserts

A prescription lens insert can be placed inside a standard dive mask and is available in different configurations.

Some cover the entire lens area like a prescription scuba mask, while others only apply to certain parts. In that case, they are comparable to reading glasses.

The advantage is that you don’t need to replace your entire scuba mask.

Can I scuba dive with contact lenses on?

It is possible to dive with contact lenses and many scuba divers do. They will give you optimal vision underwater, however, be careful when taking off your mask underwater or getting water inside the mask. This can flush them out or hurt your eyes.

Many experienced divers dive with contact lenses on and usually this is not an issue for most.

However, if you are less experienced, just starting out, or haven’t dived in a long time, this option is not optimal.

Doing a mask skill during a diving course, or getting water inside it can potentially flush them out of your eyes.

The advantage is that you can still see above water when taking off your mask.

Comparison of visual aids underwater

Let’s compare all the available options for divers with imperfect vision:

Prescription MaskPrescription Lens InsertsContact Lenses
Vision ImprovementGreatGoodGoo
Ease of useEasyMediumEasy
Cost$$$$$$
Replacement EffortHighHighLow
SafetyHighMediumMedium
Danger of flushingNoYesYes
Use above waterNoPotentiallyYes
Comparison of visual aids for scuba divers.

Which one you choose is your own choice and of course, you can change it up depending on the diving destination.

Scuba divers swimming through reef fish
Diving is more fun if you can see clearly.

For example, you could wear a prescription mask when diving at home in freshwater when you have the option to lock your glasses in your car and contact lenses at a dive resort.

Prescription diving masks usually give the best vision improvement as they ar optimized for your specific eyesight.

Prescription Diving Masks

Here are some of the best prescription diving masks in 2022 for scuba divers and snorkelers. You can also check out all the prescription dive masks we have reviewed!

Scubapro D-Mask

The ScubaPro D-Mask looks absolutely terrific and is by far my favorite scuba mask with prescription lenses on this list.

It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie and can also be used with their famous HUD dive computer. The mounting adapter is already included.

Anything and everything on this mask is replaceable and follows ScubaPro’s new modular approach to scuba gear.

Prescription lenses are sold separately and you can find them on Amazon (~$60 per piece last time I checked),

Promate Scope

Very comfortable scuba mask with replaceable lenses ranging from –1.0 to –10.0 by increments of 0.5 (for nearsighted or myopia), as well as +1.0 to +4.5 by increments of 0.5 (for farsighted or hyperopia).

They work flawlessly and fit on any face.

The Promate Scope comes in different colors but as usual, I like the darker versions best.

TUSA TM-5700 Liberator Plus

TUSA makes a lot of interesting dive gear and the Liberator Plus mask is great for divers with glasses.

The lenses can easily be replaced and are available for any prescription.

The scuba mask is available in many different colors and the corrective lenses can be used in any of them.

Cressi Big-Eyes Evolution

Cressi makes 3 different dive masks with prescription lenses and the Big Eyes Evolution is our recommendation.

The lenses may be replaced with prescription optical lenses ideal for myopic, and they have something for any prescription.

In contrast to some other big name brands, Cressi scuba gear is generally a great value for the low price you pay.

Atomic Aquatics SubFrame

The Atomic Aquatics SubFrame is one of the best scuba masks around and the one I personally use!

It looks cool, is super durable and you can read my full review of it on this site.

They can be used with prescription lenses, however, you will send it in to get this done for you.

The advantage is: The lenses will be perfect and come with a super generous warranty plus the mask is superb.

XS Scuba MA290 Bifocal Gauge Reader Mask

This mask is a little special as it works as a magnifier mask with up to +1.75 positive diopter magnification in the lower one third of the both lenses.

This means when you look down at the bottom part of the lens, you will see the magnification, while the remaining mask works normally.

Especially useful for those having trouble reading their dive computer display!

Optical Lenses Inserts

If you prefer to use your current scuba mask and still want to improve your vision underwater, these are some optical lens inserts that we recommend:

OCEAN REEF Optical Lenses Support

This Ocean Reef corrective lense set can be inserted into most scuba masks (apart from super small children’s masks) and can be easily put in and out.

What I like best is that you don’t need to worry about taking your expensive glasses on a boat ride with this one.

Simply clip it out of the mask and put it on to see above water.

If you care for sustainable diving, you will love the fact this set is made of 100% plant-based plastic! What’s not to love?

Do I need a prescription mask for snorkeling?

Prescription diving masks are also great for snorkelers as they will improve your vision when exploring the reef. In addition, you won’t lose your contact lenses when the mask gets flooded and you have one less thing to worry about.

Snorkeling is a cool alternative to diving and more and more people see the advantages of prescription masks during it.

You can use the same lenses as in scuba diving and will see immediate improvements!

Snorkeler in clear water at surface
Corrective lenses are also great for snorkeling.

Can I use prescription swim goggles for diving?

It’s best to use diving masks for diving and snorkeling, and use swim goggles for swimming only. The missing nose pocket on goggles makes them unsuitable for any long underwater activities. In addition, prescription masks will give you better vision than goggles while diving.

How is vision affected underwater?

Human vision is greatly affected underwater as there is less illumination, increasing color loss with depth, and our eyes are not optimized to see clearly in the water. Our surroundings are blurred, and objects appear 1/3 larger, and 1/4 closer than they actually are. Therefore, we wear scuba masks or swim goggles to see clearly underwater.

Everybody knows what happens when you dive underwater without a scuba mask, swim without goggles, or just dip your head underwater at the pool.

You see…almost nothing.

Vision comparison underwater with hand
How masks affect our vision underwater.

Our human eyes are not optimized to see underwater as the light is broken in a different way than on land.

Scuba Masks and goggles give us back our vision by creating an air-filled cavity just in front of our eyes which is enough to make us see more clearly.

However, due to different refraction of the ambient light, our vision is still different and objects appear 1/3 larger and 1/4 closer than they actually are.

This is often noticeably when swimming close to a ladder and reaching for it just to grab into nothing. Our eyes perceived it to be closer than it actually was.

Another case of this are tales most divers tell that they saw a GIGANTIC shark at least 3m/10ft long…while in actuality it was probably more 2m/6ft.

Conclusion

Diving and glasses don’t go well together, however, even with visual aids you can go diving.

Prescription lenses and masks, as well as contact lenses are great alternatives.

Also check out the best scuba masks in 2022 to find all the masks we have reviewed!

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃

Cheers

Julius

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