Can you wear glasses while snorkeling?
Unfortunately, glasses and sports are two things that don’t work well together, and this holds true for wearing glasses while snorkeling as well. People who normally wear glasses in their day to day life will have to take them off to snorkel because the glasses frame will prevent the mask from forming a watertight seal against your face. Plus, imagine if you dropped your glasses at sea; good luck getting them back.
However, don’t lose hope. Did you know there is a special type of snorkel mask for glasses wearers known as prescription snorkel masks? These masks even come in full face versions, and they are ideal for people that have trouble seeing without glasses.
You can also wear contacts, and below we cover the advantages and disadvantages of contacts versus prescription lenses. In addition, we’ll go over our top recommendations for prescription snorkel masks, as well as what factors you should consider to select the best one for you.
- Best Prescription Snorkel Mask Recommendations
- Prescription Snorkel Mask for Glasses Wearers Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Can You Wear Glasses While Snorkeling?
- Do I Even Need Prescription Lenses?
- Are Prescription Snorkel Masks Worth It?
- Can I Wear Glasses Inside A Snorkel Mask?
- Should I Wear Contact Lenses in the Water?
- Is It Easy to Lose My Contacts While Snorkeling or Diving?
- How Do I Safely Install Prescription Lenses on Drop-In Lens Masks?
Best Prescription Snorkel Mask Recommendations
Cressi Focus Prescription Dive Mask
Cressi is one of the most respected and trusted companies in the snorkeling and diving market, and they are finally offering their first prescription snorkel mask. The Cressi Focus dive mask is a non-prescription mask by default, however you can purchase prescription lenses separately and install them yourself.
The amount of corrective lenses available are not nearly as much as some others, however you can still get the expected range of -1.0 to -8.0. Since these are drop-in masks, you can switch out the lenses whenever you want for new ones if you find your vision is changing. The regular Cressi Focus is known for being comfortable with a tight seal, however it may be a little tight on larger heads.
Overall, the Cressi Focus is a well-reviewed snorkel mask from a trusted company, so it is hard to go wrong. In addition, this mask is highly versatile because you can switch out the lenses on your own. Snorkelers of all skill levels can take advantage of the Cressi Focus with prescription lenses to enjoy the beauty underneath the water.
IST Prescription Snorkel Mask
With the IST Prescription Snorkel Mask you can expect the basic features like a silicone skirt and tempered glass lenses at an attractive price point. The quality and design of the mask is solid and about what you’d expect from a mid-range snorkel mask.
You can expect the lenses to fog a bit unless you treat it with an anti-fog solution. If you have facial hair or long strands of hair in the way of the skirt then it can compromise the seal, causing some leakage. Again, at this price point, it does the job but you can’t expect the world.
Keep in mind when ordering that you have to specify the corrective lenses you need, as there is an option to order a regular mask without any corrective lenses. If you have two different prescriptions for each eye then you will have to contact the seller directly.
Overall, when high end prescription masks cost hundreds of dollars, the IST Prescription Snorkel Mask offers a product at an incredible price point that does what it needs to do and no more. If you’re a casual snorkeler that’s been missing out on all of the beautiful sights underwater each trip, with the IST Prescription Snorkel Mask you can finally experience it without breaking the bank.
Promate Optical Corrective Snorkel Mask
The Promate Optical Corrective Snorkel Mask is robust and boasts solid features like tempered glass lenses, low internal volume, and comfortable silicone skirt. Even without the corrective lenses, this mask is just a good snorkel mask. We love how the Promate Prescription Snorkel Mask has such a wide variety of corrective lenses to choose from.
First, you can expect a negative diopter range of -1.0 to -10.0; people with even the strongest of prescriptions are accounted for. Next, the positive range of +1.0 to +4.0 is a standard range for prescription masks that provide farsighted lenses. Since the increments are in 0.5, people who have prescriptions in between a range should choose the lower (weaker) number. Otherwise, you can severely strain your eyes.
In addition to the prescription ranges, the Promate Optical Corrective Snorkel Mask also lets you order bifocal lenses. In other words, the top portion of the lenses are regular non-prescription lenses, however the bottom portion are for far-sighted people who struggle to see up close. The range of bifocal lenses don’t follow the standard 0.5 increment, and you can select from +1.0, +1.5, +1.75, +2.0, +2.25, +2.5, +2.75, +3.0, +3.5, and +4.0.
Overall, this is yet another solid mask for the price. We wholeheartedly recommend this mask to beginner-intermediate level snorkelers that require prescription lenses to see clearly, or for the budget-minded snorkeler that wants to try out one of these masks to see how well they work.
Promate Prescription Purge Mask Dry Snorkel Combo
The Promate Prescription Purge Mask and Dry Snorkel combo might be a little bit overkill, because in addition to getting a purge snorkel mask with prescription lenses, you will also get a dry snorkel. With that said, we felt that this is a great combination for beginner snorkelers who don’t own a bunch of snorkel gear already, or for those at a higher skill level that can appreciate the benefits of a purge mask and dry snorkel.
First, the range of corrective lenses available are what you’d expect from most. The negative corrective lenses (nearsighted) range from -1.0 to -8.5, with positive (farsighted) ranges of +1.0 to +4.0 at intervals of 0.5 for both. Most people fall within these ranges, so in this regard the selection it offers is adequate.
Even though the lenses themselves are solid, what makes this product stand out is the inclusion of a purge valve and dry snorkel. With them, any water seepage can be instantly purged just by breathing through the nose. And the splash guard on the dry top snorkel will prevent water from flooding in if you accidentally submerge too deep underwater. As for the mask itself, it is durable with a wide field of view and comfortable design.
Overall, the Promate Prescription Snorkel Mask with Dry Snorkel Combo provides so much value because you can get a purge mask and dry snorkel in addition to the specialized lenses. It is a solid choice for beginners or intermediate-advanced snorkelers alike that require corrective lenses to enjoy the sights better.
Scuba Choice Nearsighted Prescription Snorkel Mask
Scuba Choice are relatively new to the snorkel scene however they’ve quickly established themselves as a reputable company with quality products, and their nearsighted prescription snorkel mask lives up to that as well. First, you can also get a farsighted equivalent, and they offer a wide selection of diopter ranges, from -1.0 to -10.0, and +1.0 to +4.0. The increments are 0.5, and you can get different prescriptions for each eye.
Some users have complained about the mask not sealing well, however others have praised it for sealing well against their face and not leaving red marks even after hours of snorkeling. So we can chalk this one up to some people’s facial structures just not meshing well with this mask. With that said, regardless of your facial structure you can expect a low internal volume, silicone skirt, and tempered glass lenses.
Furthermore, one standout feature of the Scuba Choice Prescription Mask is the buckle design on the strap that lets you customize the fit very easily. This can also help you get a tighter seal which can prevent leaking problems. One thing to note is that you should use an anti-fog spray because the lenses can fog up as a result of a thin layer of silicone coating that comes with most new masks. Another method is to scrub the lenses with toothpaste prior to using it.
This is yet another solid prescription snorkel mask that you can get at an affordable price. If you need farsighted lenses, you can look for the farsighted version of the Scuba Choice Prescription Snorkel Mask. We recommend this to snorkelers of all skill levels, especially for those who require strong prescriptions beyond -8.0, which is often the limit for a lot of prescription snorkel masks.
Prescription Snorkel Mask for Glasses Wearers Buying Guide
Even though the main thing you’re after are the corrective lenses, remember to pick a mask that is sturdy and high-quality as well. For example, you should still expect a snorkel mask for glasses wearers to include tempered glass, low internal volume, and a silicone skirt for a tight seal.
Next, double check that the mask you’re purchasing comes with corrective lenses. Sometimes a company may offer the same mask but without the corrective lenses, so check that you’re not just buying a regular mask when you want a prescription mask.
Furthermore, depending on how strong your prescription is, check that the mask you’re interested in can fit those lenses. For example, some masks have limits of -8.5 to + 4.0. If your prescription is something lower or higher than that, you’ll have to check the product description or contact the seller for more information.
Bonded Corrective Lenses
Bonded lenses are when corrective lenses are glued to your snorkel mask from the inside, which effectively ‘bonds’ them together. You can provide your own mask, or purchase one from a company that provides service. Local dive shops that sell snorkeling equipment may have a business relationship with these companies, and you can call to find out. If so, you’ll have to give them your prescription specs and mask and they can ship it to a company that specializes in making and bonding prescription lenses.
This company will grind out a lens based on your prescription and then glue it to the inside of your mask lens, and voilà, you now have bonded corrective lenses in your snorkel mask. This whole process can take up to 10 business days or over two weeks. This procedure is costly and could cost around $190 USD just for a basic lens; bifocals and other custom options are even more expensive. In the end, you will probably pay double or triple the cost of a regular snorkel mask.
With that said, the price is still lower than what it’d cost if you purchased a snorkel mask with customized prescription lenses built in instead of glued over existing lenses. There are some downsides to this, which is that the bonded lens may not perfectly cover the mask lens, causing some segmentation in the field of view. Furthermore, bonded lenses add some additional weight to the mask. The weight is not significant, but people who are highly sensitive will notice it and will need to get used to it. Lastly, people with astigmatism or with very poor vision may benefit from bonded corrective lenses.
Custom Prescription Lenses
If you’re not happy with the downsides that bonded corrective lenses have, and you have the money to spare, you could order custom prescription lenses. This method will completely replace the snorkel mask’s old lenses with the prescription lenses for a perfect fit. Since this process is complicated, it costs more than bonded lenses. However, it avoids the downsides of bonded lenses, namely that there won’t be gaps in the field of vision and no additional weight is added to the mask.
Snorkelers with rare eye problems such as persistent blurry vision should take advantage of this since bonded lenses are incapable of helping out. The custom prescription lenses can be made out of plastic or glass, and it can cost anywhere from $250 to $300 USD, depending on the company. The two methods discussed above are the most effective but also most expensive ways to get the best snorkel mask for glasses wearers. The next option is much cheaper and does a passable job, though not nearly as well.
Drop-in Lens Mask
Drop-in lens masks are masks that allow you to swap the lenses out relatively easily so that you can replace it with corrective lenses. If budget is an issue, this is the most affordable prescription snorkel mask solution you can get assuming your prescription is not too strong, or you don’t have a specific eye condition like astigmatism.
The lenses available range from about -1.5 to -8.0, in increments of 0.5. If you know your prescription, you can simply purchase the proper corrective lenses yourself. People with prescriptions in between ranges should opt for the lower number (e.g. someone with -6.25 in one eye should get -6.0 instead of -6.5), since going higher can strain your eyes.
The tricky part is installing them into the mask without damaging the frame. The advantage of the drop-in lens mask is how fast and affordable it is. Expect to pay at least $50 for a decent mask, and about $30 for each lens. That means for a little bit over $100 you can get a decent prescription snorkel mask.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides to this method. One, the drop-in lenses will not be as high quality, and you’ll find that the correction is not as accurate as the other options. Furthermore, the correction will not be centered to where your eyes are, so snorkelers with wider or narrower eyes may find that their vision is still somewhat blurry.
The solutions described above only address problems with nearsightedness. But if you are farsighted and struggle to read gauges, camera screens, or just want to get up close to examine things, you can get a removable magnifier that you can stick inside your mask. Rather than covering your entire lens, however, they will work like bifocal lenses since they are quite small and occupy a small section of your mask to help you get a better view.
Most of these magnifying lenses need to be glued on, but DiveOptx sells some no-adhesive, removable and reusable lenses. When ordering custom prescription lenses, you have the option to bond the magnifying lenses or you can simply order lenses for drop-in masks with readers already bonded to them.
Renting a Mask
If you are a casual snorkeler and don’t want to invest over a hundred dollars just to snorkel once or twice, it would make more financial sense to rent a prescription snorkeling mask instead. Thankfully, many dive shops at snorkeling destinations accommodate glasses wearers and you can try out a few until you get one that doesn’t strain your eyes.
Contact lenses are another option for glasses wearers that want to snorkel. If you decide to go this route, there are some things you need to know. First, you have to decide between wearing hard or soft contact lenses.
Hard lenses will not allow gas to penetrate, meaning tiny air bubbles will eventually form and result in blurry vision. Furthermore, your eyes may dry out faster, forcing you to blink more to lubricate it. Lastly, hard contacts are generally smaller and thus they have a higher chance of falling out. Overall, we do not recommend wearing hard contact lenses to snorkel or scuba dive as they have too many downsides.
Soft lenses, on the other hand, allow gas to pass through the lenses, will not cause your eyes to dry out as much (if at all), and they are larger so they are less likely to fall out. Essentially, soft lenses are much more comfortable and if you want to wear contact lenses in the water then these are what you should wear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Wear Glasses While Snorkeling?
No, but you can purchase snorkel masks with prescription lenses, or get stick on prescription lenses to modify an existing snorkel mask, or just wear contact lenses.
Do I Even Need Prescription Lenses?
Snorkelers and divers with only mild eyesight issues may not even need to wear contacts or purchase prescription snorkel masks. The reason for this is because water naturally has magnifying properties, and sometimes these may be enough to “fix” some mild vision issues. This is the reason why you can see better underwater than on land. So before you spend a bunch of money with prescription lenses, or worry about wearing contacts, just wear some swim goggles and test your vision before buying a fancy snorkel mask.
With that said, be honest with yourself about whether you need to purchase the necessary gear. If you even have some slight blurriness or issues with vision, then you owe it to yourself to look into the correct solution. Better to do that then to find you are blinded and surrounded by miles of water.
Are Prescription Snorkel Masks Worth It?
The answer to this question depends largely on your skill level and how often you plan on using it, as well as how you intend on using it. People who are new to snorkeling and who normally wear glasses understand that they may be missing out on the underwater sights without prescription lenses. In this case, we recommend getting affordable products like the masks we covered in our review. Just because these are specialized masks doesn’t mean they have to cost a fortune.
With that said, experienced snorkelers who are looking for an upgrade should consider paying a bit more to get the full benefits that a prescription snorkeling mask can provide. The corrective lenses in each mask should be roughly the same quality, so what you’re paying for is the quality in the mask itself.
Furthermore, how you plan on using the mask is a major factor. If you live near or frequently travel to a tropical location to snorkel, and you know that you will get heavy use out of it, then getting specialized, higher grade equipment will be worth it for you.
People who only snorkel a handful of times a year can choose between purchasing or renting a budget prescription snorkel mask and wearing soft and disposable contact lenses. However, since prescription masks have become quite cheap nowadays, perhaps even renting a few times might end up costing more than buying a cheap mask outright, so it is still something to consider.
Can I Wear Glasses Inside A Snorkel Mask?
This is not a viable option for most people. If you want to remove the prescription lenses from your glasses and glue these to your snorkel mask, then it is possible. In the past when prescription snorkel masks were not as affordable as they are now, some avid DIYers would go through the effort to do this. However today, we recommend you look into any of the other options described in this article.
Should I Wear Contact Lenses in the Water?
Yes, you can wear contact lenses while snorkeling or diving instead of getting a snorkel mask with prescription lenses. If you do, you must let your buddy know that there is a possibility your vision could be impaired if a contact falls out. If this happens, you’ll need to signal your buddy for assistance so that you can get back to the boat or land.
Is It Easy to Lose My Contacts While Snorkeling or Diving?
There doesn’t seem to be a consensus, as some people claim they went on over a hundred dives without issue, and others seem to lose their contacts all the time whenever they have to drain their mask. In the event that you do lose your contacts, it could severely inconvenience your session. Hopefully you’ve brought some spare disposable contacts so that your trip won’t be entirely ruined.
However, you’ll still have to get back onto the boat or dry land to put new contacts in. If this sounds like a dealbreaker, then we recommend you look into getting a prescription snorkeling mask using any of the methods described above, especially if you are an avid snorkeler or diver.
How Do I Safely Install Prescription Lenses on Drop-In Lens Masks?
If you’ve purchased a snorkel mask that allows you to switch out and replace the lenses, then you might be wondering how you can go about doing that. We recommend you check out the video below to do it safely, without damaging the mask.