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Diving with contact lenses inserted

Diving with contact lenses female diver

– Shane Gross

Are you starting diving and using glasses? Or maybe contact lenses? You will be happy to know that you can still dive!

There are a lot of questions when it comes to diving with contact lenses. Yes, it is completely safe, but there are also other options. Unfortunately, diving with glasses is not one of them though. Depending on how frequently you dive and what you are used to (glasses vs. contact lenses) you may have a preference. The most popular options for diving are with normal contact lenses, or with a prescription mask. Both are excellent solutions, contact lenses are easy and familiar whilst prescription masks are great for more frequent divers or those used to wearing glasses. There are pros and cons to each. In this article, we focus on diving with contact lenses. Hop over to our prescription mask guide if that’s the preferred option.

What Type of Lens To Use

There are two types of contact lenses: hard and soft. Both can be used for diving, however soft contact lens have more advantages. Check it out:

Hard Lenses

  • They won’t allow gas to penetrate. This might cause some blurry vision after the dive. Why does this happen? The eye absorbs nitrogen, and when you descend this nitrogen slowly escapes the eye. The hard lenses won’t allow the nitrogen to escape therefore tiny bubbles will form between the lenses and eye causing blurry vision.
  • You could experience slightly dryer eyes and have to blink more than normal.
  • Hard contacts are usually smaller and therefore the risk of them falling out is larger, when the dive mask is floated.

Hard contact lenses are not really recommended for scuba diving. Although hard lenses don’t pose medical threat, they’re just not worth the aggravation.

Soft Lenses

  • Allows gas to penetrate letting air pass through the lenses.
  • Eyes will not feel dry when diving.
  • When descending you will not have the same bubbly experience as using the hard lenses.
  • Soft lenses are slightly larger. If you float the mask you will be able to hold the lens inside by just closing your eyes, slightly. The eyelid will hold the lens inside.

Top tip when wearing contact lenses: Ensure your eyes are closed while clearing your mask to not lose your contact lenses when the water enters the mask.

Diving with contact lenses allowed

Choose the right contact lens for scuba diving – Credit: Svetlana Lukienko

Tell Your Buddy

Before going on your dive you should let your diving buddy know that you are wearing contacts. This will help in case you lose your mask or get too much water in your mask. As you can’t communicate underwater with your buddy if they don’t know you are wearing contact lenses they might not be able to help. It is likely you will get water in your mask and having your buddy help will reduce the risk of losing your mask or contact in the process. In the event that you do lose your mask, it is good to have a buddy who will help you find it. It’s not easy to find your mask with your eyes closed! It is always good to inform your dive buddy of any issues you have before a dive to avoid problems when exploring under the surface.

Alternatives to diving with contact lenses

If you don’t like the idea of diving whilst wearing contact lenses, no need to worry. Luckily, there are lots of other options to see underwater. 

  • Prescription masks: These masks can be custom-made specifically for your eyesight. They tend to be a little pricier but depending on how often you dive, you may want to make the commitment. 
  • Corrective lenses: These lenses can be made to fit most standard masks. 
  • Corrections stickers: Similar to corrective lenses these stickers can be stuck on the inside of a mask and require no contact lenses to be worn. 
  • Orthokeratology: A more expensive contact lens that you wear at night and remove during the day. You don’t need any contact lenses or glasses, they recover your vision temporarily for the day. More expensive but perhaps worth it for divers that suffer dryness and other irritation because of lenses.

It is also important to note that if you have astigmatism you can’t wear contacts but you can still scuba dive or snorkel with a prescription mask. A great benefit of having a prescription mask is that you don’t have to worry about removing water from your mask and losing your contact lenses. A lot of people also find it more comfortable taking their glasses off, putting the mask on and repeating the process in reverse. If you love diving and you have to find solutions so you can see, there are some out there if you take the time to find the right one.

Do you Use Contact Lenses?

We want to hear all about your diving experiences wearing contact lenses! What would you recommend? Jump in the comments to tell us all about it!

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about diving with contact lenses

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    Can I go diving with contact lenses?

    Yes, you definitely can, you just need to be careful not to flood the mask. Read this article to find out more about diving with contact lenses.

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    Do I need a special mask to see with contact lenses?

    If you are wearing contact lenses you can wear any regular diving/snorkeling mask.

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    Do I need to wear contact lenses with prescription masks?

    Unless your eyesight requires it you can dive without contact lenses if using a prescription mask to see underwater.

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    Can I use contact lenses in the pool?

    We advise you to take your contact lenses out if swimming in a pool because there are bacteria and parasites in swimming pools that like to get under contact lenses. For example, there is a parasite called acanthamoeba that can be found in pools and often can cause eye infections.