9th March 2019
Scuba Diving with Astigmatism
If you wear glasses, you may wonder what options are available to you for scuba diving or snorkeling. Specifically, if you require cylinder correction for astigmatism, can scuba diving masks or goggles accommodate your visual needs while scuba diving with astigmatism?
In our post, we will cover:
- Basics of astigmatism
- Reading your prescription
- Options for scuba diving with astigmatism
If you already know you want one of our prescription diving masks which can correct for astigmatism, from See the Sea RX, the leaders in underwater vision, click the button below to see our order page.
If you want to read more information about diving and astigmatism, keep on reading!
What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism was first described by Thomas Young, who noticed his vision problems when he was only a student, and he released his report in 1801. George Airy obtained the first corrective lenses (cylindrical lenses) in 1827.
Simply put, astigmatism, is an irregular shape of the cornea causing various vision problems including distortion or blurred vision (refractive error). The underlying causes are not completely understood, but scientists believe genetics play a large role in the formation of the condition.
Understanding your Prescription for Astigmatism Correction
Most of us have two eyes, and our doctors have to distinguish what corrective lens belongs to each eye. Some prescriptions make this simple by using R or Right for the right eye and L or Left for the right eye. Other prescriptions use the terms OD & OS.
OD and OS are Latin abbreviations:
- OD- Oculus Dexter- Right Eye
- OS- Oculus Sinister- Left Eye
There are several other fields on your prescription which are important when ordering a prescription dive mask.
The sphere is your lens power vision, displayed in diopters. The sphere can be negative or positive, and the distinction is very important. Negative sphere powers correct for nearsightedness. Positive sphere powers correct for farsightedness.
If your sphere power is greater than +/- 4, you may want to consider our high index glass options in our dive masks for scuba diving or snorkeling as the lenses become thicker as the power increases. At +/- 6, we require the use of our high index glass (+$60.00).
The correction is equal in all meridians of the eye, meaning the lens is spherical. The sphere power does not correct for astigmatism. The cheaper premade dive lenses are only available in sphere powers, and do not correct for astigmatism.
The cylinder described the lens power for astigmatism and this is one of the critical measurements to have when scuba diving with astigmatism. Like sphere, the cylinder correction is preceded by a positive or minus sign.
The cylinder, unlike the sphere of the lens, is not distributed equally throughout the lens, but is curved in such a way to correct for the incorrect curvature of the cornea. See the Sea RX’s prescription dive masks are able to incorporate the cylinder correction of your prescription to ensure you can see clearly underwater.
If your prescription lists no value or SPH/Sphere written under cylinder or CYL, your doctor has not prescribed any astigmatism correction for your corrective lenses.
Unlike Cylinder and Sphere, the Axis is not a power or standalone correction, but a description of how the cylinder correction should be implemented on the lens. The Axis, measured from 0-180 (standard protractor scale). In simple terms, the axis describes how the lens should be turned prior to insertion into the mask to ensure you can see correctly while diving with astigmatism.
Options for Scuba Diving with Astigmatism
Prescription Dive Mask
If you want to scuba dive or snorkel with astigmatism, our dive masks include cylinder corrections and can help ensure you see clearly while diving. We construct our prescription dive mask lenses out of glass and guarantee them for life.
Wearing contact lenses helps millions of people see daily without the bulk of glasses. Lots of divers report being happy to wear contact lenses while diving; however there are several concerns with contact lenses and diving.
Specially during your dive training, you will have to flood your mask multiple times which can result in a lost lens which would be catastrophic for individuals with severe optical corrections. There are also potential risks of infection.