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Can I Dive in Contact Lenses?

Our top tips for diving with lenses

This is one of our most frequently asked questions by prospective divers, and a fairly good one at that! If you have never dived before and are thinking of enrolling on a PADI Discover Scuba Diving programme, or PADI Open Water Diver course for example, then it’s important to know that you’ll be able to see properly underwater! It’s fairly obvious to most that wearing glasses underwater is a no go. There’s no mask in the world that will accommodate a pair of spectacles! But you can certainly dive in your contact lenses, and many divers and even dive professionals do so regularly. There are a few things to bear in mind though….

 

Hard Lenses vs Soft Lenses

Depending on what type of lens you use, you may experience no difficulty at all, but do bear in mind that soft lenses are a much better option than hard lenses for diving. This is because like all of your body organs, your eyes absorb nitrogen. This causes no issues, as when you descend, the excess simply off gasses from the eye ball. With softer lenses, the nitrogen can pass through and therefore you should experience no ill effects. However with harder lenses, this is not the case, so nitrogen bubbles can form between your eye ball and the lens itself. This is not harmful, but may cause some blurry vision. You may also find your eyes also dry out more with harder lenses, so you’ll need to blink more.

PADI Open Water Mask Removal Skill

Prescription Masks

If you don’t feel comfortable diving in contact lenses, there are some other alternatives if you know your prescription. Many divers feel more comfortable with a vision solution built into their mask so they can clear it during a dive without worrying about their contact lenses escaping! The most common solution is to rent a prescription mask. However you will probably want to buy your own, and this way you know you always have one that suits your needs wherever you go. Our team are more than happy to help you find the right mask for you, and your instructor will take you through how to get the right size and fit.

 

Positive prescriptions

Unfortunately we do not have any positive prescription masks at Master Divers, but some of the dive retail stores stock them for purchase. Depending upon the dive though, slightly blurry vision at a distance may not present a problem. For example in some instances reduced visibility may mean seeing things far in the distance is not an issue anyway. It’s much more important for divers to be able to see things closer to them – like the submersible pressure gauge and your dive buddy’s hand signals for example.

 

Negative prescriptions

We do have some prescriptions masks at Master Divers, so if this is something you think you may need for your PADI Courses with us, then please do let us know in advance! Do bear in mind that if you only have a mild vision problem (less than -2), that the natural magnifying properties of water may correct your vision enough that a prescription mask may not be necessary.

You can get different lenses fitted for each eye, and most manufacturers offer lenses that come on 0.5 increments. So it will just be a case of working out which ones are best for you. The off the shelf options available on Koh Tao are as follows. The benefit of buying a mask with prescription lenses is that it comes with the lenses to match your prescription, and the original plain lenses. So if you want to lend your mask to your buddy/partner, then its simply a case of popping your lenses out, and replacing the originals. This is quick and easy to do, and no special tools are required. This system also makes it easy to update your mask should your prescription change – all you need to do is order a new set of lenses and pop them in.

Off the shelf prescription masks available here on Koh Tao include:

  • Aqualung Look
  • Aqualung Look 2
  • Aqualung Look HD
  • PSI Aqua 2
  • Tusa Ceos

PADI Open Water Mask Removal Skill

Other Options

You can also get prescription stickers to insert into your mask. Although not available on Koh Tao, these are widely available online, but are generally considered not as durable or reliable as having a mask with properly fitted prescription lenses.

There is an optician on the island that can make lenses for any mask you choose. We are reliably informed that they can deal with axis adjustments and possibly spherical/cylindrical lenses too. The benefit of this option is that you should be able to make the adjustment to any mask you like, which means you can get the best fit possible and are not limited to the selection of masks the manufacturers make optical lenses for. Often though, this can be a costly route, and once you leave the island you are not necessarily covered by the same level of warranty that applies to branded dive equipment. So our recommendation would be to purchase your own prescription mask if you are not comfortable diving in your contact lenses.

 

Not sure what to do? Why not try your contacts for the first day, and see how you go from there? Our staff are more than happy to help you look into rental and purchase options. However one thing is for sure, impaired visions should not stop you from diving!

 

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