Whether you have always worn glasses or not being able to see clearly underwater can present a challenge for snorkelers and it certainly reduces some of the fun and enjoyment of exploring the underwater world…..so what can you do? There are actually a number of options available to you, after all, the reason we snorkel is to see all the cool things right? What follows is a brief roundup of some of the more popular underwater vision correction solutions that we have come across.
The first question to ask yourself is whether the problem is with seeing things at a distance or maybe just up close. The answer will help you determine which of these approaches might work for you. Some are available at a very nominal cost, while others can be a much more expensive, costing hundreds of dollars. But to keep things in perspective…..if you can’t see what you came for, then your investment in snorkel gear and destination travel is… well, not worth much. Choosing an appropriate underwater vision solution may be one of your best investments in your equipment.
As we all have learned in our childhood, water itself magnifies what we see below the surface. Things look larger and closer, and for some, that may be enough to enable them to see reasonably well. But if you wear glasses, it might not help.
There are also a limited number of masks that actually come with “gauge reader” lenses built in, but they usually have a limited selection of diopter choices and not many manufacturers offer them anymore. They are generally priced similar to a plain glass mask and can be a good solution if you find one that works for you.
A great solution and good value are masks where the manufacture offers a wide range of replaceable left & right correction lenses. The lenses will be changed right at the store. They are available in increments of .5 and at a very nominal cost ($90-$140 for both mask and correction lenses) which makes them a really great value for those with uncomplicated eye prescriptions. The Clarity Mask is what is pictured above.
Another option that is gaining in popularity is the use of disposable contact lenses. If you are already a contact wearer, then this could be an easy fix. The downside here is that they can wash out if your mask floods, but then those who use them simply carry additional lenses on their vacation.
Finally, and the most expensive option, is to take you mask and eyeglass prescription to the local dive shop and have them sent it out to have custom lenses ground to match your actual eye prescription. The lenses will either be completely replaced with a ground lens, or the ground lens may be “bonded” or glued to the existing plain glass lens that came with the mask. The result is great vision underwater, but be aware that depending on your prescription, the thickness of the resulting lens can also make your mask a bit heavy. A small price to pay for being able to clearly see all the little critters underwater.