How to Dive with an Imperfect Vision

Is your not-so-perfect vision preventing you from enjoying scuba diving? Don’t worry, you don’t have to draw back from exploring the underwater realm just because you don’t have a 20/20 visual acuity. 

In the Hollywood film, Notting Hill, the character played by Hugh Grant couldn’t find his eyeglasses so he brought his special swimming goggles with prescription glasses at the last minute. Although it’s a fictional story, the part about the prescription goggles is a reality.

Corrective diving measures for people with imperfect vision

Want to know more about diving with an imperfect vision? Here are some corrective measures to compensate for challenged eyesight to make diving possible.

corrective dive mask

Diving with contact lenses

It is generally safe to dive with contact lenses but soft lenses are more advisable to use since you are prone to a cloudy vision when using its hard counterpart. The eye absorbs nitrogen and as you go underwater, the rigid hard lenses trap the nitrogen, creating tiny bubbles between the lenses resulting in blurry vision. It could take 30 minutes or more before you resume your normal sight which could arise to potential underwater problems. There is also a tendency for the eyes to get dry which makes you want to blink more than normal. Whereas, soft lenses do not dry your eyes and allow the air to pass through, preventing bubble formation; thus, maintaining a clearer vision. Soft contact lenses are also larger which offers more security if the mask floods or gets lost, unlike the smaller hard contacts which are more prone to falling out.

Another alternative that you might want to consider is using disposable contact lenses because you can just discard them after the end of your dive and rinse your eyes with rewetting drops to avoid dryness and irritation. 

Diving with a corrective mask

  • Customized prescription mask – This can be arranged with an optical shop so that they can replace the entire lens of your mask with a glass that matches your precise prescription. A customized prescription mask can be quite expensive but provides a long-term solution and perfect underwater visual acuity as possible. A customized prescription mask can be a good investment if you’re a professional and frequent diver. 
  • Bonded Lens – Special bonded lens provides the same correction as your eyeglasses which can be glued to the inner side of the glass of your dive mask. However, if your correction is more than five diopters, there is a tendency to have a “coke bottle” or tunneling effect when using regular glasses. This can be avoided by using high-index glass which is thinner and lighter than conventional glasses. The bonded lens can still be quite expensive but may cost less than a customized prescription mask. 
  • Reading glasses – If you don’t have a distance impairment and only wear reading glasses, you can request for special reading lenses which can be glued near the bottom of your original mask faceplate to enable you to read your gauges. There is a risk of the glasses moving out of place due to water surface tension or getting knocked out when the mask is flooded.
  • Drop-in Lenses – There are pre-made corrected drop-in lenses (available in half-diopter increments) which you can use to replace the glass of your mask. Although it is not as accurate as your actual prescription mask, it is a more cost-effective alternative if you don’t require high astigmatic corrections, bifocals, or prism. 

Reminders when diving with contact lenses or corrective mask

  • Always inform your dive buddy that you are wearing contact lenses so that your partner can guide you just in case you lose your contacts or if your vision gets compromised in some way. You can come up with an underwater sign to communicate this kind of problem.
  • When diving with contact lenses, it is advisable to close your eyes when clearing your mask to prevent them from being washed out. If you are using hard contact lenses, you can keep your lenses moist and prevent irritation by using lubricating eye drops before and after diving. For multiple dives, you can also put eye drops during surface intervals.
  • You can also consult your ophthalmologist to discuss your medical concerns about diving with contact lenses or prescription masks.

At Nemo Diving Center, we strive to make diving a fun, rewarding, and safe learning experience. Just let us know if you’re using contact lenses or a corrective mask and we’ll guide you during in-water scuba training especially when performing repeated mask clearing exercises. When you become a certified diver, you can join our trips and enjoy scuba diving in Dubai