If you are wearing glasses or lenses and are worried about whether you can scuba dive – you absolutely can!
You can opt for wearing your contacts under your mask underwater, or go for a prescription diving mask. In any case, you can definitely experience scuba diving as a hobby or even a profession if you have impaired vision.
Let’s dive in and find the perfect solution for YOU!
Can You Scuba Dive with Contacts?
Yes. Many scuba divers dive with contact lenses and get to experience the underwater just like anyone else.
If you decide to go on a dive wearing contacts, there are a couple of things to keep in mind for your safety and comfort.
Check in With Your Ophthalmologist
Before taking your first scuba class, I strongly recommend you pay a visit to your ophthalmologist. Even though in most cases, they’ll say it’s fine to scuba dive, it’s better to be safe.
Some vision problems can be more susceptible to infections and it’s important to be aware of the risks involved. Your ophthalmologist will also give you recommendations on how to keep your eyes clean and moisturized during your dives.
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Let Your Instructor Know that You Wear Lenses
One of the main techniques you’ll learn during your scuba classes is how to clean, flood, and remove your mask while underwater. If you are wearing contact lenses, it’s important to let your instructor know. Your instructor will teach you how to do these techniques without risking getting your lenses washed up and losing them underwater.
The main thing you’ll have to do is keep your eyes closed when you flood and remove your mask. This will minimize the chance of you losing your contacts underwater.
Soft vs. Hard Contact Lenses
As you probably know, there are soft and hard contact lenses. Hard contacts are also known as rigid gas-permeable lenses. This type of contacts allow gas to pass through the eyes, resulting in nitrogen gas formations between your eyes and lenses when you’re underwater. This can result in blurred vision, eye pains, and general discomfort during your dive.
This is why it’s recommended to wear soft contact lenses (a.k.a. non-gas-permeable) when diving. Soft lenses will prevent nitrogen bubble formation between your eyes and lenses and protect your vision underwater.
Also Read: Can You Scuba Dive with a Beard?
Is It Safe to Dive with Contact Lenses?
It is generally safe to scuba dive with contact lenses. However, there are two aspects to diving (and snorkeling) with contact lenses – practical and a health-related.
From the practical point of view, the main risk is that your contacts might fall off when you’re clearing your mask. The solution is simple – keep your eyes closed when you’re clearing your mask. This is why it’s important to let your instructor know that you are wearing contact lenses during your classes so that they can teach you the proper techniques.
There are also health-related risks. Diving with contacts will expose you to certain parasites and infections that live in dirt and water, such as Acanthamoeba keratitis. This is why medical experts recommend using daily contact lenses (a.k.a. dailies) when diving. You should take them off immediately after surfacing, and then rinse your eyes with a saline solution.
To minimize the risks of diving with contacts, you should get comfortable clearing your mask with your eyes closed. Besides that, always remember to take out your contacts after your dive and clean your eyes with a solution. Follow these steps and the risks will be reduced to a minimum.
Can You Wear Glasses with A Scuba Mask?
No, you can’t wear prescription glasses under a scuba diving mask. Diving masks come with lenses to protect your eyes from saltwater and allow you to see underwater. There is just not enough space for you to wear your glasses under a scuba mask. Don’t forget that you’ll likely have to flood your mask a couple of times during your dive, which will make it impossible to see with your vision glasses anyway.
If you are a glass wearer and are not willing to switch to contact lenses during your dives, you can always get a prescription mask.
How to Scuba Dive With Impaired Vision?
Now that we covered the precautions to take and possible risks of diving with contacts, let’s look at the two ways you can scuba dive if you have impaired vision.
Scuba Diving with Contact Lenses
As I briefly mentioned above, one of the ways you can dive while seeing well underwater is wearing contact under your mask. Don’t forget that it’s strongly recommended you wear soft contact lenses, have an extra pair of lenses on you just in case, and clean your eyes and contacts right after you surface.
Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of going with this approach.
- No extra investment is needed
- Works with any mask
- Risk of losing your lenses (albeit minimal)
- Need to clear your mask with your eyes closed
Although there are disadvantages, I personally know a lot of divers who have been diving with lenses for years. If you just want to give scuba diving a try and don’t want to invest too much into a prescription mask, then diving with your lenses is the way to go.
Scuba Diving with a Prescription Mask
If you’re serious about scuba diving or just don’t want the headaches associated with wearing contacts underwater, then you might want to buy a prescription mask. Prescription masks are scuba diving masks that have correcting lenses, just like your glasses do.
- No need to close your eyes when clearing or removing your mask
- No risk of losing your lenses
- No need for an extra cleaning routine after your dives
- More expensive
- You won’t be able to easily rent, sell, or lend your mask to someone else
I would recommend buying a prescription mask if you plan to dive often, or if you’re going on a long dive trip. Although it’s a bit pricier, it’s totally worth the cost.
I hope I’ve managed to convince you that wearing glasses or contacts should not stop you from trying scuba diving. It’s an amazing experience and an opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people. It would be a shame if you gave up on your dream to scuba dive because of your vision problems.
Whether you decide to start diving with your contacts, or buy a prescription mask, I hope you fall in love with this hobby just like I did.
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