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Contacts or Prescription Snorkel Mask?


wcook
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I’ve gone snorkeling a few times. Had fun, but I’m very casual. Pretty much just “look, fishies.”

 

Just booked a cruise which will have one (maybe two) snorkel stops. But then remembered that all my snorkeling was done back when I wore contacts. I switched to glasses a few years ago. I am quite nearsighted (-7.0) so I have to do something. 

 

Option #1: Visit doctor and get some contacts. I’ve been thinking about doing this anyway. But I’m lazy. And cheap. 
 

Option #2: Buy a prescription mask. Again, been thinking about buying my own mask/snorkel anyway in this post Covid world. 
 

Any thoughts or suggestions appreciated 
 

 

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19 hours ago, wcook said:

I’ve gone snorkeling a few times. Had fun, but I’m very casual. Pretty much just “look, fishies.”

 

Just booked a cruise which will have one (maybe two) snorkel stops. But then remembered that all my snorkeling was done back when I wore contacts. I switched to glasses a few years ago. I am quite nearsighted (-7.0) so I have to do something. 

 

Option #1: Visit doctor and get some contacts. I’ve been thinking about doing this anyway. But I’m lazy. And cheap. 
 

Option #2: Buy a prescription mask. Again, been thinking about buying my own mask/snorkel anyway in this post Covid world. 
 

Any thoughts or suggestions appreciated 
 

 


 

if you don’t snorkel too often can you ask for “trial” contacts?  My optometrist offered them free before I bought a prescription mask.  I admit though I declined and sucked it up to buy a prescription mask.  It made such a difference!  We snorkelled with turtles and whale sharks and I could see!!!  Lol. Before that I’d take photos when I saw movement-some actually turned out well but much better now that I can see.  
 

 

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Both have worked for me successfully and I don't really think that I have a preference.  I can no longer wear contacts, so the decision has been made for me.  Some things to consider:

 

With contacts, you have your exact prescription prescribed by your doctor.  With prescription masks, you choose lenses based upon your prescription.

 

With contacts, you have the choice of all masks.  Not all have the option of prescription lenses.  My  prescription mask is a Cressi, and I really like it--can't recall the model name.  

 

Both cost some money.  Either you will pay for contact lenses or pay a bit more for the prescription lenses for the mask.  

 

Regardless, I highly recommend getting your own mask if you plan to continue to snorkel.  The "Rent or bring your own snorkel equipment thread," which you may have seen, has some useful related info.  

 

 

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Another consideration is how likely your prescription is to change.  If there are usually "tweaks" each time you visit your opthamologist, you may be better off getting contacts rather than having custom lenses remade each time.

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  • 3 months later...

I have just purchased a prescription mask for our upcoming Caribbean cruise (my second mask in 10 years). I find this an absolute necessity for me (-5.25 & -5.0). I tried contacts but they are not suited to me, I also had a prescription insert, which was better than nothing, but fogged up very quickly.

I find a prescription mask is great, even though I only snorkel occasionally, once or twice a year. I would recommend.

TUSA Elite mask and snorkel set for just under $100.00.

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  • 5 weeks later...

At -7.0 can you actually "see" without lenses?  Yes, get prescription lenses in your mask.  Shop around, some masks come with pre-made lenses (think reading glasses), others come with lens blanks that you bring to your own optometrist for grinding.  If you can get by with one pair of Book-Store reading glasses for walking in the park and trimming fingernails, go with the pre-made lenses.  If you absolutely need bifocals, there are "gauge reader" additions that can be attached to both types of lenses.  Snorkeling is all about seeing what's "down there", so absolutely go the extra mile. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

After I lost my 2nd $300 prescription scuba mask in under 2 years (albeit over almost 300 dives), I switched to daily use contacts a few year ago and haven't looked back.  Unfortunately, I might need to add some reader inserts to my mask soon for reading my dive computer - age is doing a number on my near vision - but those inserts are a lot cheaper than a prescription.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I dive regularly and instruct too. I always use prescription lenses in a mask, but like others have said they are expensive. I get my optician to de-rate my prescription so I can still read my gauges with the additional refraction underwater. You don't need such a great distance underwater (especially in the UK quarries 😀 ). If you use contact lenses you have to be prepared for your mask to be knocked off or flooding.

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26 minutes ago, Advanced Diver said:

I dive regularly and instruct too. I always use prescription lenses in a mask, but like others have said they are expensive. I get my optician to de-rate my prescription so I can still read my gauges with the additional refraction underwater. You don't need such a great distance underwater (especially in the UK quarries 😀 ). If you use contact lenses you have to be prepared for your mask to be knocked off or flooding.

 

I use daily disposable contacts, I haven't had a single case of loosing them underwater so far even without my mask during various drills and training - but something everyone should determine for themselves.  In any case, I see good enough without them, even underwater to function - I just won't be nearly so good at spotting critters.

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  • 1 month later...

My husband and I are both very nearsighted.  For our upcoming cruise, I was looking to get him a a "prescription mask" too. (I have a -5)  If you just want nearsighted correction, I found a couple for around $50 on that major online retail website but that was still more than we wanted to spend for something we do not need that often.   I found swim goggles (not a mask) with correction for under $20 but I know those are dangerous for diving below the surface.  I then checked ebay and found a source in China that had some for under $20.   The lead time was longer than we are used to but they did arrive well within the promised time  The correction seems good.  The mask is much light weight than mine and the strap a lot thinner.  We need to see how the fit is next time we get in the hot tub.  Unlike some other offers, they did say you could order different correction for each eye.

 

I would not suggest them for scuba or for someone who plans to use frequently, but for a little snorkeling they should do the trick.

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  • 6 months later...

I got a prescription mask for about $110 at my local dive shop. Best thing I ever did, and I wish I'd done it years ago. It can be totally customized as to color of mask, color of lenses, and size. Even though my prescription changes yearly, the mask has been fine. I recommend buying one and any gear you buy from a dive shop is always top notch!

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What are your needs?  Full prescription masks are very expensive, an optician will create optical lenses using the supplied blanks, and install them in your mask.  

Somewhat less expensive are bonded prescription lenses that can be attached to an existing mask.

An economy solution are "Gauge Readers"; essentially reading glasses lenses attatched to the lower part of a standard dive mask.  

Still less expensive are stick on reading lenses that can be added to an existing mask.

If your vision is not adequate for distance vision, unfortunately the only real option is the expensive one.  If instead you only need reading glasses for day-to-day use, either of the less expensive options will be more than adequate.

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  • 1 month later...
On 8/22/2023 at 7:45 PM, gmerick said:

What are your needs?  Full prescription masks are very expensive, an optician will create optical lenses using the supplied blanks, and install them in your mask.  

Somewhat less expensive are bonded prescription lenses that can be attached to an existing mask.

An economy solution are "Gauge Readers"; essentially reading glasses lenses attatched to the lower part of a standard dive mask.  

Still less expensive are stick on reading lenses that can be added to an existing mask.

If your vision is not adequate for distance vision, unfortunately the only real option is the expensive one.  If instead you only need reading glasses for day-to-day use, either of the less expensive options will be more than adequate.

Just to clarify you don't go to an optician for prescription lenses for a dive mask. I'm not sure if they are actually able to produce the correct tempered lenses to the correct shape. Rather you get your prescription and the Dive mask manufacturer will supply the lenses for their dive mask (at extra significant expense of course). Not all masks will take replacement prescription lenses (have to be two separate lenses for instance).

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I splurged on a prescription mask for our Galapagos trip. I bought the mask from a dive shop, gave them my glasses prescription from my ophthalmologist, and they sent the mask somewhere that puts lenses in the mask. The lenses, including a lined bifocal, are glued (?) to the inside of the mask front. They worked beautifully. The mask cost $80, putting the prescription in cost $280. Totally worth it, but not cheap. After that trip, my husband brought in the mask he’d bought off of Amazon, gave them his prescription, and we’re now waiting for them to be done. The dive shop said any mask with a tempered glass front could have lenses put in. 

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On 9/30/2023 at 1:28 PM, Advanced Diver said:

Just to clarify you don't go to an optician for prescription lenses for a dive mask. I'm not sure if they are actually able to produce the correct tempered lenses to the correct shape. Rather you get your prescription and the Dive mask manufacturer will supply the lenses for their dive mask (at extra significant expense of course). Not all masks will take replacement prescription lenses (have to be two separate lenses for instance).

 

I'd like to address this mis-conception.  Yes a dive manufacturer will accept your prescription, and sell you a custom mask.  Yes, you will pay "at extra significant expense of course".  I didn't include that option, because quite a number of optical suppliers will sell replacement mask lenses with precision prescription optical lenses bonded to correctly fitting flat glass mask lenses.  This bypasses the middleman.  This is also how cost conscious spectacle wearers buy glasses.  Purchase a frame (mask?) from a quality source, have an optician (not an optometrist) grind and install a lens blank.

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20 minutes ago, gmerick said:

 

I'd like to address this mis-conception.  Yes a dive manufacturer will accept your prescription, and sell you a custom mask.  Yes, you will pay "at extra significant expense of course".  I didn't include that option, because quite a number of optical suppliers will sell replacement mask lenses with precision prescription optical lenses bonded to correctly fitting flat glass mask lenses.  This bypasses the middleman.  This is also how cost conscious spectacle wearers buy glasses.  Purchase a frame (mask?) from a quality source, have an optician (not an optometrist) grind and install a lens blank.

Judging by ljandgb then it's far from cost effective. 2021 is the last time I purchased a new mask. At that time the TUSA Ceos mask cost £61, and the TUSA corrective lenses £32 each. This is for scuba diving not snorkeling (and to depths up to 50m FWIW), purchased from reputable dive shop. A lot cheaper than $280. Standard off the shelf stick on lenses are available for £43 in the UK (today's prices), including if you want them bifocals.

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