I am wondering about snorkeling with glasses. I have very very poor eyesight and I wear glasses. I will maybe be going snorkeling for the first time, if I can figure out a way to see. My contacts are the old fashioned hard lenses, so I would not want to snorkel in them. I don’t want to invest $200 in a prescription mask. Is there anyway you can wear glasses under a mask? Thank you.
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Galen & Nicole – Sep 3, 2010 – Glasses in Mask? – Maybe
We have seen someone wear their glasses inside their mask. But you would probably need to pull the lenses out of a pair of your glasses. Keep in mind that your glasses are designed to be a specific distance away from your face, and this may change that.
See this page for a basic description:
Instructions for Placing Glasses in a Mask
Also read this forum thread where folks discuss doing this:
Glasses in Mask Forum Thread
There are more reasonably priced options now for prescription masks and we outline them all on our prescription snorkeling mask page.
That should get you started. Good luck.
Phyllis in Oregon – Sep 3, 2010 – Snorkeling With Hard Contacts
I’m an “extreme” snorkeler and also have done SCUBA diving. I am nearsighted with astigmatism. For diving I used a prescription mask. However, when I snorkel, I use my hard contacts. With over 40 years of snorkeling experience, I have never lost a hard contact lens. Of course, I always close my eyes when I clear my mask (blowing water out through side or through purge valve). Good luck!
Anonymous – May 16, 2011 – Try an Optical Mask as a Compromise
I am very nearsighted with astigmatism, and I don’t wear contacts. When I took up snorkeling I made the best investment: at my local scuba shop, they had what they called “optical masks.” These are regular masks that can take pre-made, general corrective lenses. Have you ever seen reading glasses in a store? They’re labeled +1, +1.5, +2… This measurement would be the “sphere” or “SPH” if you look at your prescription. If you are nearsighted, your numbers will be negative. The shop plugged the nearest matches into my mask.
Now, since these lenses do not include my other personal prescription values, like the “CYL” and “AXIS,” they’re not “fine tuned”–they’re “in the ballpark.” The key is to see “well enough.” On land wearing the mask, my distance and peripheral vision aren’t great, but underwater it’s a totally different story–it doesn’t matter. I can really see, it’s awesome, and I can’t imagine not having that mask.
I have always loved to swim but never really saw anything until I bought it. It was a risk–what if I didn’t like snorkeling? But the thing is, I’m not sure how I could have really enjoyed it if I couldn’t see!
It cost me around $140–I think the mask itself was only about $50. But a true prescription mask, they told me, could easily cost hundreds of dollars. Then I found optical goggles (these are much cheaper, about $20 from Speedo) for pool use and they’re great too!
Susan – May 4, 2013 – Middle Aged Presbyopia
I am going to St. Lucia in two weeks. For most of my life I have been truly blessed with eagle-eyed vision and have never worn glasses. Since my last snorkeling trip 16 years ago, I’ve become your classic presbyopic who can’t read a menu without a pair of readers from the drug store. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m on a computer ALL day, I probably still wouldn’t have actual Rx glasses and can get by fine with just readers. My distance vision is still great.
It just hit me that while snorkeling I’ll be fine until I dive to look at something up close! Even if I were willing to buy a pair of optical lenses, nothing would look right for me while floating. My question is if anyone is familiar with this issue and if anyone has thoughts on whether natural magnification underwater may help compensate? Thanks!
Nicole & Galen – May 4, 2013 – Magnifiers
Susan, it sounds like magnifiers might be a good solution for you. See Stick-on Magnifiers comment below. Have fun on your trip!
Sally – Dec 7, 2013 – Another Option for Farsighted People
I am so farsighted that I can’t see anything clearly, so I got Sea Vision’s magnifier lenses in +3. Those and the natural magnifying quality of the water have enabled me to see well for years. I can’t operate the camera, though, and don’t dive down to see things up close. I tried the little add-ons for reading-impaired divers, but they were such a small field and I needed the whole mask magnified. My tip: when thinking of ordering a magnifying lens, consider the magnifying quality of water. Snorkeling is my passion, and I don’t want to miss any of it!
Tom Maguire – Aug 14, 2016 – Snorkeling with Glasses
My wife can’t see without her glasses and her glasses won’t fit inside the mask because the frames are in the way. She just so happened to have her old prescription, so I removed the arms and placed the remaining glasses inside the mask. They fit snug, not moving around and presto, she could see while snorkeling. We brought along duct tape just in case they started to move around on her so I could Red-Green them if needed. Lol. I hope this helps others looking for a fix.
GW – Nov 22, 2016 – Readers Too
Remove the arms on your readers and you have a low cost fix. Also if you set them low enough in your mask you can still have regular vision by looking above them.
Taylor Wiginton – Aug 8, 2017 – Full Face Snorkel Mask With Eyeglasses
Is it possible to wear eyeglasses in a full face snorkel mask?
Nicole & Galen – Aug 8, 2017 – Yes, Taylor
Hi Taylor, yes. A company has come out with a set of eyeglass frames that you can have your prescription installed in for wearing in a full face snorkel mask. You can find a link to the optical lens support in the Ocean Reef section of our full face snorkel mask page. We also mention it down the page at the bottom of the advantages list.
Daniel – Jul 21, 2018 – Stemless Glasses and String?
Hi! I’m contemplating getting a prescription mask, but I’m going to try something with a friend’s non-prescription mask first.
I’m thinking that if I take the arms off of an extra pair of glasses and put a thin nylon string through the hinge that goes around my head, the mask should still seal properly. And that way when I take the mask off, I can still see.
I could even put a hasp or clip on the string to take on and off easily.
Nicole & Galen – Jul 22, 2018 – Your Idea, Daniel…
Hi Daniel, well, a single hair causes a snorkel mask to leak, so a nylon string passing through two sides of your mask seal will certainly cause a leak.
Prescription masks can be expensive, but are often the best solution.
Berta – Dec 22, 2018 – I Like the Idea of Contacts, But…
So, I need bifocals, and I’m going on a snorkel vacation for two weeks. I want to see everything! Any suggestions on how I can I make contacts work when I also need bi-focals?
Galen & Nicole – Dec 22, 2018 – Stick-on Magnifiers
Hi Berta, I (Galen) have the same thing as you. I wear contacts and now that I have reached that age, I need bifocals for close vision. So, in order to see my camera settings and watch, I added stick-on magnifiers to my mask. You can read my review of them on this page.
Hope that helps!
Frank – Aug 7, 2019 – I Can See
You can use prescription glasses in your mask. Just unscrew the arms and wedge the glasses in. I did it and it works great.