Diving and Snorkeling with Contact Lenses: What You Need to Know

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Are you thinking about learning to scuba dive but you’re worried about your visual impairment? If so, you’ll be pleased to hear the good news: you can become a diver even if your vision is not perfect.

Whether you’re shortsighted, nearsighted, or have astigmatism, there are contact lenses to correct your vision. And for the most part, these same lenses can be worn underwater while you dive. That said, there are a few things you need to be aware of.

To help you get the most out of scuba diving or snorkeling with your contact lenses, here we go over everything you need to know. We’ll also cover a few of your frequently asked questions about diving and snorkeling with contact lenses.

Snorkeling with contact lenses

If you normally wear glasses but you’d like to go snorkeling and see all the fish, you really only have two options:

  1. Buy a dedicated prescription diving and snorkeling mask
  2. Wear contact lenses under a regular diving and snorkeling mask

The first option is best reserved for people who go snorkeling a lot and are willing to invest more money into their snorkeling gear. The average prescription snorkel mask sells for around $100 dollars or more, enough of an outlay that you don’t want it gathering dust under your bed.

One other thing to consider with prescription masks is that you’ll be blind on the beach until you get the mask on your face. Less than ideal, especially when you’re surrounded by beautiful vistas.

The second option is much cheaper and the lenses you’ll wear are not just reserved for snorkeling, instead you can wear them during the day before snorkeling and afterward. You can also use a regular snorkeling mask, either one you own or one you’ve rented.

Most snorkelers with vision impairments prefer to use daily disposable lenses. This way if one gets lost in the water before you put your mask on, you won’t have to worry about the cost of replacing a more expensive extended-wear lens.

Scuba diving with contact lenses

As with snorkeling above, divers and prospective divers have two choices, a prescription mask or contact lenses. Many divers prefer contact lenses for reasons of cost and ease. And many dive professionals use contact lenses to correct their vision on a daily basis while at work, showing that it’s perfectly okay to dive with contacts.

Here are some additional factors you should consider when diving with contact lenses:

Choose soft contact lenses for scuba diving

While most people these days use soft contact lenses, some people still prefer hard or gas permeable lenses. If you’re in the latter group, you should switch to soft lenses for diving.

As you go deeper in the water, the atmospheric pressure increases. Gas permeable lenses may suction in line with the increasing pressure, which is both uncomfortable and bad for your eyes. Plus, as the name suggests, gas permeable lenses allow gasses to pass to your eyes. This could lead to the formation of nitrogen bubbles between the lens and your eye’s surface. 

Worried if soft contact lenses can fix your particular vision impairment? Have a chat with us and we’ll help you choose the best soft lenses for diving. Soft lenses cater to everyone, even if you need Toric or multifocal options.

Close your eyes when learning mask skills

When you learn to dive, your scuba instructor will have you complete several underwater skills with your mask. Because masks can leak and flood with water, it’s important that you know how to remove the water calmly. 

Your instructor will ask you to partially flood your mask on purpose and fully flood your mask. You’ll be shown the technique for clearing the mask of water by simultaneously breathing out through your nose and applying pressure to the top of your mask’s frame where it sits on your face.

When you wear contact lenses, there is a chance that a lens will fall out when you flood your mask. But you can skirt this possibility by keeping your eyes closed during mask-flooding and no-mask underwater skills. Let your instructor know in advance that you wear contact lenses and they’ll accommodate your particular needs.

Let your dive buddy know you’re wearing contacts

Once you’re a qualified diver, you’re able to go diving with a buddy. That is, you won’t need to have a professional diver in the water with you. It’s a good idea to let your buddy know you wear lenses. 

That’s because in the unlikely event your mask is knocked off your face, you’ll probably close your eyes, or you’ll open them and may lose a contact lens. Giving your buddy the heads-up that your vision could suffer in that situation is good diving practice.

Diving and Snorkeling with Contact Lenses FAQs

Can you scuba dive with glasses?

No, your regular spectacles are not suitable for scuba diving or snorkeling as they won’t fit comfortably inside your mask. Choose contact lenses or a prescription mask instead.

Is it safe to wear contact while diving?

Yes, soft contact lenses are safe for scuba diving. There is a slightly increased risk of infection due to the particles in seawater. Just make sure you dispose of your lenses at the end of the diving day.

Are contact lenses a problem for new divers?

Not really. New divers just have to follow slightly different protocols when learning their mask skills. But this doesn’t make the skills any more different and many people who wear contacts learn to dive every day!

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