Can You Snorkel With Glasses?
Published February 6, 2023
For many glasses-wearers, it’s common knowledge that it’s not advisable to don their specs when partaking in pool activities. One reason is that harsh chemicals can cause damage and leave residues on lenses. Another is that it can be difficult to keep glasses from falling.
But with precautionary measures taken, wearing glasses for swimming should be possible.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite extend into other activities like snorkeling, which is a bummer since the idea behind snorkeling is to get a glimpse of the underwater world.
So, can you snorkel with glasses?
Is Snorkeling With Glasses Possible?
Yes, you can snorkel with glasses, but it’s not advisable. Though wearing glasses while lounging in a swimming pool might be manageable, that’s not the case with snorkeling.
That’s because to snorkel, you must wear a snorkel mask. So, if you intend to wear your glasses, you need to put the glasses first, then the mask, and this can lead to an issue.
To start with, glasses must be at a certain distance from your eyes. They’re not meant to be directly on top of the eyes.
If you wear a mask on top of the glasses, the mask will push the glasses toward your face. As a result, rather than improving your vision, the glasses may impair your vision instead by being too close. Therefore, while you can snorkel with glasses, you shouldn’t.
However, it’s worth noting that there are snorkel masks out there that supposedly allow you to wear glasses. These masks are designed so there’s a dedicated space for the glasses.
Alas, those products are pretty expensive, and it’s never truly clear if they actually work. As far as you know, you may not even need glasses in order to snorkel in the first place.
Do You Need Glasses in the First Place?
When wearing goggles underwater, you’ll notice that objects are not their normal size.
That’s because the lenses of goggles or masks and the air chamber inside them have a different density. As a result, light behaves, or more specifically, refracts, differently.
So, what happens is objects underwater appear 25% bigger than they actually are.
What that means for you is that if your vision is only just a bit blurry and isn’t far off from the perfect 20/20 vision, you may not actually need glasses to snorkel in the first place.
However, if your vision is not even close to 20/20, you need a way to improve your vision without glasses. Thankfully, there are several alternatives to glasses if you want to snorkel.
4 Alternatives to Glasses While Snorkeling
There are four main ways to solve your vision problems without your everyday glasses.
Let’s start with the most obvious solution—contact lenses.
1. Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are by no means an ideal solution to your problem. In fact, contact lenses are not any more advisable than regular glasses for activities like snorkeling.
To start with, the most commonly prescribed type of lenses is hard contact lenses.
The issue is that hard contact lenses are gas-permeable, meaning gas can pass through the lens. This feature is usually beneficial, but it’s detrimental if you’re going diving or snorkeling because it allows nitrogen bubbles to form between your eyes and the lenses.
Your vision may become even blurrier than if you hadn’t used contact lenses, and the bubbles may even cause eye pain. However, soft contact lenses are a different story.
Soft contact lenses are not gas-permeable, so they should be usable for snorkeling and even diving. It’s also advisable to disinfect the lenses after every snorkeling session.
Unfortunately, even both hard and soft contact lenses suffer from the problem of getting dislodged from your eyes due to water movement, so they’re still not advisable either way.
2. Stick-On Magnifiers
Bifocal eyeglasses are one type of glasses that senior citizens commonly use specifically for reading. They’re the ones where a small portion of their bottom part looks different.
That part is called the magnifier, and what they do is they allow you to see objects more quickly by making them look bigger if you look through the magnifier. Interestingly, these magnifiers are available on the market as a standalone sticker product of some sort.
The idea is that you buy the magnifier, stick it into the surface of your snorkel mask’s lenses, and you’ve effectively created a part of the lens where you can see more clearly.
It’s much safer and more comfortable than contact lenses. But since they’re disposable, you may have to spend a bit if you want to snorkel several times, each time with magnifiers.
3. Prescription Snorkel Masks
Prescription snorkel masks are like any other snorkel mask. The only difference is that rather than regular lenses, they have built-in prescription lenses, hence the name.
A prescription snorkel mask can either be pre-made or tailor-made.
Pre-made prescription snorkel masks are the ones you choose and buy from a store right away without consultation from an ophthalmologist. They’re cheaper, but there’s no guarantee that the prescription of the snorkel mask you’ll buy will fit your specific needs.
On the other hand, tailor-made prescription snorkel masks are masks that have built-in prescription lenses specifically designed by an ophthalmologist for your vision problems.
The premade option is really only viable if your visual acuity is common since you can very easily find one that fits your needs. But if your acuity isn’t common, such as if you have astigmatism, it might take a lot of time and effort to find one that fits your acuity.
In that case, the tailor-made option is better, though keep in mind that they’re typically more costly. Prescription snorkeling masks are practical only if you snorkel regularly.
4. Masks With Changeable Lenses
Prescription snorkel masks would have been the perfect alternative to glasses, except for the fact that visual acuity changes over time. That means after a few years, or perhaps even months, the prescription snorkel mask you bought will no longer fit your needs.
That’s why for our last entry, we have masks with changeable lenses. These are basically masks whose lenses you can remove and replace with another lens of your own.
This alternative is handy if you believe your eye prescription will change soon. Lenses usually don’t come with the product, so you have to have lenses already to use them.
Summary: Can You Snorkel With Glasses?
To summarize, you can snorkel with glasses, but it’s not advisable. You may not even need to wear glasses in the first place. But if you’ve determined that you truly need one, your best bet would be to instead opt for the alternatives. You can either use stick-on magnifiers, a specific type of contact lens, or a specialized snorkel mask.
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About The Author
Lenard Arceo is passionate about the outdoors and South Florida life. He is a professional blogger for several renowned publications and also loves learning how to code in his free time.