How to pick a dive mask for prescription lenses
If you are reading this, you probably have an interest or need for a prescription dive mask while diving or snorkeling. At See the Sea RX, we can install any prescription including bifocals lenses and lenses which can correct for astigmatism into any dive mask. Whether you are buying a mask from us, or sending us a mask to have lenses installed, we will walk you through the history of dive masks, and what to look for in a quality dive mask.
HISTORY OF DIVE MASKS
Long before the early rebreather and open circuit pioneers such as Jacques Cousteau perfected their underwater breathing devices, humans had been exploring the underwater world with breath hold diving.
The human eye has evolved to see in air. Water is a different medium with properties that challenge the human eye. When we try to see underwater without the aid of any device, our eyes cannot focus properly. This causes the blurry vision we have all experienced in our neighborhood pool.
Even Leonardo Da Vinci drew images of possible underwater viewing aides. However, it wasn’t until the development of rubber that a true diving mask as we know it was created. The first designers of diving masks used a simple single oval piece of glass with rubber. The front of the dive mask, as with contemporary masks we use today, maintained a flat or planar front. The flat front of the dive mask affects the refraction of light, allowing our eyes to focus underwater. When diving underwater, the water exerts pressure on any airspace, and this includes the airspace within a dive mask. To counteract this pressure, any diver must exhale air out into the mask. The early masks did of the 1900’s did allow the diver’s nose to be contained in the mask.
We take rubber for granted, but Charles Goodyear only vulcanized rubber in the last 200 years, and the advent of modern rubber products led to the modern dive mask.
CAN ANY MASK BECOME A PRESCRIPTION DIVE MASK
Divers will see all modern dive masks have the same key components: A tempered glass lens front, a pocket for the nose, and a silicone skirt to seal around the face keeping water out of the mask. Dive mask manufactures, and the FDA view tempering of the glass as mandatory. This is due to risk of breakage. By tempering the glass, manufacturers can help reduce scratching of the lenses as well.
Gear manufacturers also use differing quality levels of silicone to distinguish themselves from other masks on the market. The Scuba Pro Synergy II, which we do offer, sports a double skirt and a high-quality silicone.
IST makes the only mask on the market with a metal frame dive mask. Several of their masks are available on our site. Some of these masks that are available in the aluminum frame include: The M100, M200, and M300.
Some masks purchased at sports retail stores or discount online markets sport plastic lenses, or cheap silicone. We are unable to convert any plastic lens mask into a prescription dive mask.
Divers and snorkelers have two main choices when selecting dive masks: Single/Twin Lens Masks and Silicone/Mask Color when choosing their prescription dive mask.
TWIN LENS OR SINGLE LENS DIVE MASK FOR PRESCRIPTION
Twin lens dive masks are those with two separate pieces of glass separated by a nose pocket/bridge. They comprise most of the dive mask market. Twin lens masks work particularly well for prescription bonding. This is because we are able to create near edge to edge prescription lenses to bond to existing glass. That process can’t be done with single lens masks. Single lens masks generally let more light into the mask due to the larger viewing area.
CLEAR SKIRT OR BLACK SKIRT FOR PRESCRIPTION DIVE MASKS
Divers can buy dive masks with frames in various colors. They can choose the color depending on personal preference. Dive mask skirts, however, are generally only available in 2 colors: black and clear. Clear skirts allow more light into the dive mask. This can be pleasing to those who feel slight claustrophobia while wearing a dive mask. Unfortunately, due to sun exposure, salt water, and chlorine, most clear skirts will yellow as the dive mask ages. Yellowing can take years to appear.
Even proper care will not stop this from happening. The downside of black skirts is that they are light limiting. They do, however, maintain their color and look newer for longer. As always, we always recommend rinsing your gear, including your dive mask. The rinse should be done with fresh water, immediately after all dives. That is the best way to help extend the life of your dive mask.
If you have more interest in the history of scuba diving and vintage scuba diving masks, check out the History of Diving Museum.
Ready to place your order? Check out our ordering page.
See the Sea RX
Helping you see clearer underwater.