One of the most exciting and accessible ways to observe the underwater beauty is snorkeling – allowing multiple benefits such as good physical activity, access to fresh air and establishing a bond with the nature in a unique way.
However, it is a completely different proposition when you try doing snorkeling with glasses, which may be a tricky experience, particularly when the water starts leaking in to the mask. So can you snorkel with glasses?
A slight corrective vision shouldn’t be an issue as water will magnify your view by about 25%, but if you have high powered prescription glasses, and you do not want to miss out on the underwater world, then there are a few options that you can explore to take up snorkeling.
With the advancement in technology, there has been immense improvement in the making of snorkeling gear by the manufacturers and this guide should give you all the options and relevant information if you are a glasses wearer and intend to take up snorkeling.
Can You Wear Glasses with a Snorkel Mask?
The quick answer should be an emphatic no. It isn’t impossible to do it, but then that comes with certain risks include: the earpieces of glasses breaking or damaging the seal around the mask, and allowing the water to get in, or if the mask pushes or pulls the frame of the glasses, causing it to sit uncomfortably on your face or causing disrupted vision underwater.
The above mentioned risks can lead to a very poor and uncomfortable snorkeling experience and at worse, may not even be safe if you cannot see properly underwater – exactly the opposite of what you would be trying to achieve!
Pros and Cons of Snorkeling with Glasses
- Some of the manufacturers have tried to make full face snorkel masks that can fit a pair of eyeglasses, hence making them apt for use underwater – at least as an option.
- Some people are only comfortable with their spectacles that they use daily and hence they can use the same ones by removing their arms and fixing the glasses within the mask, so they fit snuggly within it.
- Some people are allergic or uncomfortable to wear contact lenses or other options, and in such instances, they can only enjoy the underwater with their own glasses.
- Regardless of the concerns associated with using prescription glasses underwater, they can be safely used if you are only snorkeling around a cave or shallow waters, where there isn’t too much pressure on your face mask.
- Eyeglasses may not be an option underwater due to the difference of index of refraction between water and air – different lenses have varying indexes of retraction.
- Chlorine, heat, sweat and sunscreen can collectively be bad for the glasses, and hence the vision. You will need to thoroughly rinse and clean your glasses regularly upon each use with soap and water.
- The earpieces or frame of your glasses can potentially break the mask’s seal and allow the water to seep inside. The glasses are meant to sit at a specific distance you’re your eyes and this may not always be possible as the mask may push or pull the frame, causing imbalance of vision and discomfort.
- It is said that anyone who has a 20/20 visual acuity above water may find it practically hard to see under water. Unless you wear corrective lenses or use any other option, those who are near sighted, far sighted or have astigmatism for instance, may not be able to see clearly under water with the complications associated with glasses within a mask.
One thing is for certain. You need to see the underwater clearly whilst snorkeling otherwise it defeats the purpose of the activity and may not even be safe. The last thing you need is to find yourself in a dark hole when you go underwater! Let us consider some of the options that present you with an alternative to wearing prescription glasses under the mask.
Prescription Snorkel Masks
For those with corrective eyeglasses, a prescription snorkel mask is nothing less than a bonanza. With the improvement in technology, more and more manufacturers are producing optical masks, where they create flat lenses that are bonded to the inside of the mask, to meet the need of countless aspiring or avid snorkelers who wear glasses. You can also buy a full-face snorkel mask with built-in prescription lenses.
Having said that, pre-made prescription lenses and an optical dive mask can cost you an arm and a leg, and usually both the eyes will come with the same prescription – this will be problem for those who have high difference in numbers of both eyes and hence, these prescription masks may not be a workable solution for them.
Wearing contact lenses is, by far, one of the best options that a glass wearer can consider when looking to snorkel. They are safe, easy to use, and the disposable contact lenses don’t present any problems with the snorkeling mask either.
However, it does have its limitations at times. If you wear contacts, you need to avoid certain lenses, for example, the ones that can cause irritation and eye infections, or the hard and gas permeable lenses, which can be painful and cause blurry vision if you intend to dive, given the excess pressure as you go deeper underwater. Rather opt for wearing soft contact lenses.
You should keep your eyes closed if you wear contact lenses and intend to take your mask off underwater for any reason or when you suspect that water has seeped within the mask. The lenses can come off and get lost if they come in contact with water.
Custom Made Prescription Lenses
Whether you have a unique eyesight issue (where you need bifocal lenses, have an astigmatism issue, or the like) or there are no other readymade options available to you, then you can resort to custom-made prescription lenses.
Just opt for a non-prescription mask and replace its removable lenses with your prescription lenses. This can be done with the assistance of the local dive shop (who specialize in prescription masks) or an optician, who will require both your mask and your glasses prescription to create the prescription mask lens for you.
A prescription lens isn’t a cheap option but an effective one and worth the investment if you are an avid or habitual snorkeler or diver. You just need to ensure that the snorkel mask fits your face appropriately before you send it for customization.
DIY Prescription Snorkel Mask
One of the reasonable (from a pricing perspective) and effective options (in certain instances) are DIY prescription diving masks.
As the name suggests, you can create a prescription diving mask yourself by using:
- Snorkel mask (something that is fit for purpose and not necessarily expensive)
- Pair of glasses (best to use any old ones that you do not use frequently but with the correct prescription of course)
- Eyeglass screw driver
- Super glue
Unscrew the ear stems of your eyeglasses and fit them neatly onto your mask. Make sure they are placed in the right spot of your vision when you wear the mask. Then try the mask with the glasses and see if the vision is the same as you would expect, and that it fits comfortably over the nose. Make adjustments with super glue if required to get the right fit.
As an alternative, you can pop out the glasses from the frame and stick them on the snorkel mask with the glue, and make adjustments if required.
Snorkeling is a fun and exciting activity that lets you escape from the daily chores of life, just waiting to be seen and explored. Unfortunately, this cannot be done in the best possible manner by wearing prescription eyeglasses.
If you really want to snorkel and wear prescription glasses, then always factor in the risks that we have highlighted above. In fact, if you are prudent and risk-averse, you will appreciate that the risks of wearing them under the mask clearly outweigh its benefits. There is more potential harm than benefits of using these glasses.
There are a few options available to you, such as wearing daily disposable lenses or prescription masks, so always explore them and see what works best for you.