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Single Lens Dive Mask and Prescription Lenses

Single lens dive masks such as the scuba pro gorilla mask, atomic aquatics venom (& venom frameless) have become increasingly popular with divers due to their increased field of view as well as offering comfort for some divers with more prominent nasal bridges which may be compressed with twin lens dive masks. We frequently get calls from scuba divers and snorkelers asking if we can make prescription lenses for their single lens dive masks or get a dive mask from us with single lenses and a prescription. The short answer is yes, and in this article, I am going to discuss some of the confusing nomenclature regarding prescription dive masks (such as single lens vs single vision), different single lens options, and some of the advantages (and disadvantages) of getting prescription lenses such as bifocals, single vision, and readers put into a single lens dive mask.

Black Skirt Dive mask with reading glass installed in the bottom
Hollis M-1 with custom reading lenses installed by See the Sea RX in Houston

What is the difference between a single lens and a twin lens dive mask?

This one is pretty fairly straight forward. Below I have two examples of masks with prescription lenses installed. One is the Atomic Aquatics subframe with custom st-35 bifocals (the st-35 bifocals have a slightly larger reading area for those that do more macro work such as photographers. You can read my article on the different bifocal options for dive masks here)- the other is a Tusa Single Lens Dive Mask (with an Anti-UV coating).

Atomic Subframe- a TWIN lens dive mask with custom oversize bifocals installed by See the Sea RX
A TUSA single lens dive mask with custom single vision lenses made in our lab. We do get questions rom divers about installing lenses with dive masks with coatings, and this is not an issue for us as seen here.

The Tusa mask has one single piece of front glass, while the Atomic Subframe has two lens pieces separated by a nasal bridge. Some single lens masks are marketed as “frameless” consisting of just the skirt and the lens, and no frame portion (such as the atomic frameless 1 and 2).

We can install lenses in both, as you can see in the above images. Aesthetically, I prefer the look of twin lens masks with prescription lenses as the prescription lenses will be made per eye and installed in the dive mask; however, functionally there is no difference.

You can get both single and twin lens dive masks in clear and black skirts (I talk more about differences in skirt colors in my article on picking the right mask for prescription lenses here, and a video on YouTube we uploaded here).

What is the difference between single lens and single vision?

This one is a little more confusing for some divers not used to these terms. Single lens refers to the dive mask construction and single vision relates to vision correction. Single Vision lenses correct for a single distance, typically distance for nearsighted folks like me. Here is my Scuba Pro D-Mask with prescription lenses (single vision) before a recent dive in Sint Maarten.

Here are the different type of prescription lenses:

Single Vision Correct for one vision distance. Typically distance. Can correct for astigmatism, include prism correction for those with strabismus, and can be made custom to your exact prescription.

Bifocal Lenses- These lenses correct for two distances. As we age, our lenses lose elasticity, and it becomes more difficult for our eyes to accommodate for near vision and reading. Those of us that wear glasses to correct for distance (nearsighted mostly) will over time likely need a multifocal correction of some sort.

Reading Lenses Reading lenses are a special type of single vision lenses that we produce and are installed in the bottom of the dive mask for divers that have developed presbyopia (the loss of lens elasticity discussed in the bifocal description), but who do not need distance correction (or only minimal distance correction that they do not want to correct). Single lens masks are a favorite for divers who want readers, due to the oversize readers we can produce for them. Check out my article on custom prescription readers for the Atomic Venom mask here.

Other considerations for single lens dive masks:

Single lens dive masks have oversize lenses, which makes them particularly useful for one type of prescription lens we make- the franklin bifocal. The franklin bifocal is a fully custom bifocal where we make two lenses per eye (one for distance one for near) and we can make the percentage size of each two completely to order. For example, those that do primarily video or photo work and want up to 80% of their lens space used for near vision, we can do that. We frequently use the Atomic Venom Frameless for this purpose.

A clear frame dive mask with reading glass
Atomic Aquatics Frameless Dive Mask with custom reading lenses installed at See the Sea RX in Houston

pictures of single lens dive masks with prescription lenses

What single lens dive masks can have prescription lenses installed

Single lens masks we stock and make custom prescription lenses for in our in house lab:

Atomic Frameless Mask
Atomic Venom Frameless

We also have access to the Scuba Pro Frameless and Gorilla mask although we do not keep it on hand.

Single lens masks we do not stock, but are able to install prescription lenses:
Hollis M1
Cressi F Dual Mask
JBL Seeker
Mares Essence
TUSA Freedom HD
TUSA Paragon S Mask
SeaDive Eagleye
TUSA Zensee Pro Mask
Aqua Lung Linea Mask
Synergy 2 Trufit Dive Mask (SINGLE Lens- there is also a twin lens synergy 2 which we do stock)

And many other quality single lens dive masks not listed.

Picture of Josh

Josh

Josh is an optical technician and owner of See the Sea RX. He is a PADI instructor and rebreather diver- he has been involved in diving for more than 20 years. He has also worked as a sergeant at the Harris County, Texas, Sheriff's Office, which included time as the instructor for the dive team. Josh also holds a masters degree in data analytics from Texas A&M.

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Reading lenses for Atomic Venom Frameless Mask

Reading lenses for atomic venom frameless dive masks

Dive Mask Reading Lenses
Jim's Atomic Venom Frameless Mask with +2.00 reading lenses

As we age, many of us divers struggle to see our gauges or dive computer (or controls on our cameras for those that take our cameras underwater). One solution, for divers whose distance correction is largely adequate, is installing reading lenses into your dive mask or purchasing a new dive mask with reading lenses. Unlike the stick on reading lenses available at many dive shops or oline, See the Sea installs permanent reading glass (yes real glass) which is guaranteed for the life of the mask.

We were recently asked by our good friend Jim to create reading lenses for his Atomic Venom Frameless Dive Mask, and he was stoked with how they turned out. Jim does a lot of macro work, so large reading lenses were a necessity. In this article, I am going to cover:

  • The Atomic Venom Frameless Mask
  • Reading lens options for dive masks
  • The final lens shape
  • How to order reading lenses for a dive mask 
  • Other considerations

The Atomic Venom Frameless Mask

 

 

The Atomic Venom Frameless mask is probably the flagship mask from Atomic. Based on years of frameless mask design, According to Atomic, “The VENOM Frameless is incredibly comfortable with
low-volume, hydrodynamic construction and exclusive Atomic “Wicked” styling. Co-molded with two silicone materials in two levels of softness and features the exclusive Atomic UltraClear lens. It will change the way you think about dive masks”. 

Unlike their other frameless masks (check out my overview of the Atomic mask lineup), the Venom Frameless is only available in a black skirt, and only in the standard size (the non-venom frameless masks are available in clear and medium fits).

See the Sea RX can install prescription lenses into the Atomic Aquatics Venom Mask

Reading lens options for dive masks

Us scuba divers need clear near vision for several reasons:

  • Most importantly, we need to see our gauges and/or computer to be aware of our remaining bottom time and tank pressure.
  • Observe small animals or features up  close underwater.
  • See a camera screen or controls for an underwater camera

Types of reading glasses

At See the Sea, we permanently install reading glass into your dive mask (or you can purchase a dive mask from us including the Atomic Venom). Normally install what are called “Executive” style readers which extend all the way the lens left to right, but as everything we do is custom, we can create a custom shape fitting your needs. Often, professional underwater photographers and videographers require larger reading lenses as they spend more of their time viewing macro work.

lens shape used

In this case, we created a unique angle of the reading lenses which maximize reading glass on the periphery, while minimizing disturbance to the distance vision.

Our experience as divers, not just opticians, give us a unique insight on on giving divers the best vision. This is what makes us different. By angling the lenses on Jim’s mask, instead of leaving them level, we can lower the height of the reading glass when he is looking straight ahead, while giving him a taller lens where he may view his gauges.

This effect can be somewhat seen when looking at the second picture below on the right which is taken through the inside of the mask. The effect is more pronounced when actually viewing the lens while wearing the mask.

The lenses are also larger than we do standard reading lenses due to Jim’s needs. In general, if you provide us no instructions as to the size or shape of the lenses you want, we utilize about the bottom quarter of the mask for your near lenses. 

How to order reading lenses for a venom frameless mask.

If you want to order an Atomic Venom Frameless Mask with reading lenses, you can either buy one from us or send us your masks. Either way, the first step is to enter our order system here, and select either “I have a mask” or “I need a mask”. If you are purchasing a mask from us, you will find the Atomic Venom icon, and you can select your color. 

You will then need to select lens type- in this case it is “Reading Lens”.

You will then enter in your lens power. Reading lenses are available in powers from +0.5 through +4.00. 

If you are sending us your own Venom mask, be sure to mark on the lens with a sharpie showing how high up the mask you would like your lenses installed. 

Our standard processing time is about 2 weeks from when we receive your order (or your mask), but rush options are available in as little as three days. See the Sea RX- Home of Prescription Dive Masks. 

Diver wearing Venom mask with +2.00 reading lenses before final lens cleaning.
The view through an Atomic Venom Frame less mask with +2.00 reading lenses

Additional considerations

If you need correction for distance as well, reading lenses alone may not provide you a satisfactory diving experience. For the clearest vision you may want to consider bifocals (which we do more of than any other lens.

Additionally, if your vision has a high amount of astigmatism or any prism correction, please contact us to discuss options for you.

Picture of Josh

Josh

Josh has been diving for 20 years and started See the Sea RX when he was unhappy with the other prescription lens options on the market. He would rather be in or on the water than whatever he is doing right now.