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Prescription Lenses for OTS & Oceanreef Full Face Diving Masks

Oceanreef Predator, a full face diving mask from See the Sea RX available with corrective lenses

Why full face diving masks

If you need to use communication systems, dive in possibly contaminated water, or just want the ability to breathe through your nose, full face diving masks (or as Oceanreef calls them – IDMs or integrated diving masks) offer several unique features over traditional dive masks. While they may appear intimidating to use at first, full face dive masks are fairly simple to use, WITH the proper training (interesting aside, PADI now offers a full face mask specialty, but before they did, myself and other instructors who wanted to issue full face specialty certifications had to prepare our own course materials and receive a unique specialty instructor certification from PADI). 

If you want to dive with a full face face mask and need corrective lenses, See the Sea RX, the leader in prescription dive masks,  can help ensure you see clear. Full face dive masks should not be confused with full face snorkeling masks, which can only be used at the surface. 

 

Oceanreef Predator, a full face diving mask from See the Sea RX available with corrective lenses
Ocean Reef Predator Extender Dive Mask available with prescription lenses from See the Sea RX.

full face mask rx lenses

OTS Lens Retainer with Color Correcting Single VIsion lenses from See the Sea RX

If you need prescription lenses for any of the following masks, we have you covered:

Oceanreef GDivers
Oceanreef Iron
Oceanreef Space Extender
Oceanreef Preadator Extender
OTS Guardian FFM 
OTS Spectrum FFM*

Full Face Dive Masks can be made with all the lenses we make in traditional dive masks including bifocals, single vision, lenses, high index single vision, and readers (plus a few options specific to full face masks like progressive lenses and color correcting lenses).

more about the lenses

OTS Guardian Full Face Mask Optical Lens Support

Both OTS and Oceanreef use proprietary lens retainers that clip inside their masks. The lens retainers are not interchangeable between the two main manufacturers of full face diving masks, but the lens retainers are generally moveable between masks of the same manufacturer. The OTS lens retainer (optical lens kit) is $99 plus lenses while the Oceanreef Optical Lens Support 2 is $38 plus lenses. Unlike our traditional dive mask lenses which we produce in glass, (yes actual glass), full face mask lenses are generally produced in polycarbonate or other similar materials (which allows for cool options like the color correcting tint on the OTS lenses seen in the picture above).

 

OceanReef Lens Support 2.0 for Oceenreef IDM full face dive masks
 

 

While the lenses are composed of a different material than our traditional dive masks lenses, they are still available in the same corrective options such as:

-Bifocals. Bifocals are used for divers which need help seeing both near and far vision (seeing the dive site & need help seeing their gauges).
-Single Vision & High Index Single Vision. These lenses are generally produced for divers that need help with their farsight which includes correction for astigmatism (unlike stock lenses, our lenses are made custom and DO correct for astigmatism) and prism (for those that have strabismus or see double).

Prescription lenses for full face diving masks can also be updated if your prescription changes.

how to order full face diving mask prescription lenses

At this time, we do not have online ordering set up for full face diving mask lenses (we do have online ordering for full face prescription snorkel masks). To start the order process, give us a call at 1800-356-7190, or email us (info@seethesearx.com). As an authorized Oceanreef dealer, we can also build you a lens and IDM mask package. 

Other considerations

While the OTS Spectrum* is a full face diving mask, it is built a little differently than the other FFMs from Oceanreef and OTS, it has a glass flat lens front. We can install lenses on this mask (and have done so such as the custom photographer reading lenses installed on the mask to the right), but the lenses are glass and do not use the lens retainers. The OTS Spectrum is more similar to a traditional dive mask in this regards than an FFM. 

Color correction can be added to all full face mask lenses (except the OTS Spectrum) but is not suggested for photography. For other divers the specially designed tint can help increase the color range at depth when most red light has been absorbed. 

Our lab produces full face masks lenses a bit faster than our traditional dive mask lenses as they do not have to be tempered like glass lenses. Our typical turn around is about a week, and rush options are available. 

OTS Spectrum full face diving mask with reading lenses installed
An OTS Spectrum Full Face Diving mask with custom oversize reading lenses installed by See the Sea RX.
Josh

Josh

Josh is an optical technician and owner of See the Sea RX. He is a PADI instructor and 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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Dive Mask and Prescription Considerations for Underwater Photographers

OTS Spectrum full face diving mask with reading lenses installed

Prescription dive mask concerns for photographers and cinematographers

               One of my personal passions, since I started scuba diving at 14 has remained underwater photography. Being able to share images and videos of the sites we are so privileged to be able to see as divers starting with my old 35mm camera and housing I took on my early dives. Some of us divers from a young age need help with our vision and use of underwater camera equipment, while others have vision issues that develop with age. In addition to various vision issues that can affect diver’s ability to use a camera, photographers and cinematographers have unique needs that every mask may not fit. 

For example on the right, is an OTS Spectrum full face diving mask used by a professional photographer. Only reading lenses were used and were made oversize so the photographer could focus on their camera and settings, with a little space left on top for uncorrected distance viewing. 

OTS Spectrum full face diving mask with reading lenses installed
An OTS Spectrum Full Face Diving mask with custom oversize reading lenses installed by See the Sea RX.

In this article, am going to discuss scuba masks and prescription mask concerns as they relate to the underwater photographer including:

  •        Picking a mask for underwater photography
  •        Prescription lens options
  •         Reading lens options

Picking a (prescription or corrective) scuba mask for underwater photography:

While photography needs (and prescription needs) do affect mask decision, it is still important to not forget the basics. While a mask may be one of the less expensive pieces of equipment a diver uses, few things can ruin a dive like a mask that fogs, leaks, or completely fails. A quality dive mask should consist of a silicone skirt, tempered glass lenses, and high quality frame materials (if not frameless). This becomes even more critical when trying to capture the once in a lifetime shot through your viewfinder only to later find your focus was off due to a foggy mask

Picture taken in the Dos Ojos Cenote with a Sony RX100VI by Josh at See the Sea

Modern digital cameras and software allow us to save a lot of images in post processing, but focus cannot be repaired in post (there is always an exception, such as the dual pixel raw Canon 5DmkIV which allows MICRO focus adjustments in Canon software). 

On the left is my 5DMKIV housing which fits the full size DSLR. While the dual pixel raw image does allow some focus shifting in post, it is extremely minor and will not fix an out of focus image but rather is designed to sharpen focus on the eyes for example. 

In addition to general mask concerns, photographers do have a few additional needs. 

To minimize any distortion of lcd viewfinders or monitors, underwater photographers should avoid tinted or mirrored lenses. While tinted and mirrored dive mask lenses are popular with recreational divers to bring back color while diving or cut through glare at the surface, any mirror or tinted lens does reduce the amount of light reaching the eye. As underwater photographers, we want every photon to reach our eyes, so we can see the clearest picture and ensure we are capturing what we would like. 

In my article on choosing a prescription dive mask, one of the larger decisions we have to make when choosing a new dive mask is whether we want a clear skirt or a black skirt mask. Clear skirts let in some peripheral light but tend to yellow over time while black skirts look newer longer. As underwater photographers, the glare from side skirts can be distracting, so in general we recommend black skirt dive masks for photography.

The decision as to whether to use a twin lens or single lens dive mask makes no difference and is a personal choice. 

 

 

Twin lens prescription dive mask.
Single lens prescription dive mask .

Prescription considerations for the underwater photographer

In general, there are three main lens styles for prescription dive masks:

  • Single Vision/Distance Correction Lenses
  • Reading Lenses
  • Bifocals


Single vision lenses
correct for one distance only , and wee refer to single vision lenses for distance only correction. For divers that only need correction for distance due to issues such as myopia or astigmatism (yes we can even create prism lenses for scuba diving ).

If a professional underwater photographer has very mild distance correction, they often choose to not correct for the distance so as to keep the near vision as clear as possible.

Single vision lenses start at $208.00.

Reading lenses correct for close vision due to issues such as presbyopia. For the underwater photographer, who spends considerable more time using near/close vision for reviewing camera settings, camera monitors, and viewfinders, reading lenses can be the most popular option. Photographers require larger reading lenses than a diver who just needs to be able to see their gauge or computer. One of our most popular masks for reading lenses is the Atomic Venom Frameless with Reading glass.

Reading lenses start at $158.99.

Bifocal lenses are the most popular lenses produced at See the Sea. Bifocal lenses correct for both near and far distances. I wrote a much longer article (which includes a video about bifocals) on bifocal dive masks which you can review here. While many advanced underwater photographers forgo distance correction in order to focus on their close vision, if your distance vision is poor enough the dive quality would be diminished without it, there are two main and one fully custom bifocal options to consider.

Above is a Scuba Pro Synergy II Twin dive mask (one of our more popular masks), with one of our standard bifocal options. With both our standard bifocal options (the ST28 and the St38), the lens is divided into two sections: A large distance correction area as well as a half moon near vision correction zone. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the line separating the areas. The final size of the near correction area is a factor of the dive mask, your pupillary distance, and lens constraints. The St35 (starting at $315) is the preferred standard bifocal for photographers as the near vision area is approximately 25% larger than on the St28.

For photographers that cannot operate their equipment with the constraints of the half moon near correction zone, our fully custom bifocal, the Franklin bifocal, pictured below, allows us to use two separate lenses per eye providing a truly custom product with the amount of distance/near correction per eye determined by the scuba diver/ photographer. As this is a fully custom product, online ordering is not available. Please call us for more information. 

As seen with the Atomic Venom Frameless mask above with Franklin lenses, there are two lenses per eye with the near vision lenses at the bottom of the mask extending all the way across, not limited to a half moon shape. Further the percentage of lens for each eye dedicated to near versus far vision can be determined by the diver while consulting us. 

other considerations and ordering

Some prescriptions limit mask choices, such as those with high plus lenses or high prism generally find our M100 and M200 dive masks to work best due to the space between the lenses and the diver’s face. Other dive issues such as freediving photographers, may prefer a low volume mask. I wrote an article on some of our low volume masks for freediving here. 

If you are ready to order a prescription dive mask, you can go to our order page here.  If you have any questions, you can also click the chat box on the bottom right which comes to us during business hours (and often forwards to one of our cellphones after hours). You can also call us at the office at 1800-356-7190. 

As always, you also can send us your own quality dive mask to have lenses installed, and do not have to get a dive mask directly from us. We also have a network of dealer dive stores across the United States ready and willing to help you pick a mask for prescription lenses from See the Sea. 

Josh

Josh

Josh is an optical technician and owner of See the Sea RX. He is a PADI instructor and 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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Bifocal Scuba Dive Mask Gallery

Bifocal dive mask lens gallery

Recently, I published a post on different bifocal scuba mask options, but I wanted to create a post with more images, so you can see examples of more options for bifocal lenses in your mask or when ordering a mask from us. Bifocal lenses correct distance vision as well as providing an add power for the near vision section. No more struggling to see your gauges or dive computer. Our prescription dive mask lenses- made custom to your prescription can be produced in as little as three days with rush fees (standard processing is 2-3 business weeks. for more information on our rush options, click here). 

Standard and ST35 Bifocals

Below are images of standard and ST35 bifocal masks. The main difference between the two bifocal types is the ST35 gives the diver a bit more near vision room. 

Tusa Freedom Ceos Dive Mask with bifocals. These lenses were installed in the customer's own mask, and due to the smaller size of the CEOS mask the prescription lenses provide almost 100% lens coverage.
The Hollis M3 is a popular twin lens mask. We do not sell the Hollis line, but this mask was sent int by a customer. Twin lens masks are my preffered masks for prescription lenses in general.
This mask was sent to us by a diver for bifocal lenses.
The M100 dive mask is one of our most popular masks on the See the Sea site. The masks costs under $100 before lenses despite its aluminium frame. The m100 is a great average fit mask, and it can accommodate stronger prescriptions.
Many divers are unsure whether single lens masks can accommodate prescription lenses. Here is a scubapro crystal vu with bifocal lenses installed. While the lines are difficult to see in this image, the mask does have the standard lined bifocal.
The Scuba Pro Synergy II remains the most popular mask on See the Sea. We have installed lenses in more Synergy II masks than any other mask in our history. The final lens product comes out near edge to edge on the Synergy, including here on this bifocal.
Seadive masks several mask models with a UV blocking lens. UV blocking lenses are becoming more popular in dive masks to help reduce exposure at the surface. Here we installed bifocals in a customer's mask.
Here is another Synergy II with bifocal lenses installed. We no longer stock the pink color, but can bring it in on special requests.
As previously stated, the Synergy II is our most popular dive mask. The clear and blue is also the most popular color. Bifocal lenses help scuba divers see their gauges, computers, and camera controls while also correcting distance vision.
The Tusa Paragon is another mask that blocks UV light. Here is a Paragon with lenses from See the Sea.
An Atomic Frameless dive mask with prescription bifocals installed at See the Sea RX in Houston.
This is a Deep See single lens dive mask with traditional bifocals installed. One questions a diver has to answer when picking a new mask is whether to get a black or clear skirt. Clear skirts do allow in more light but tend to yellow over time. Black masks are favored by underwater photographers.

Franklin Bifocal dive masks

Franklin bifocals are custom made by hand in our lab in Houston, Texas. The Franklin is the ultimate custom option for divers that want the most room for near correction. The franklin is fully custimizable, so divers can choose exactly what percentage of the lens they want for near and distance correction. Professional photographers often have more than 50% of the lens corrected for near and only a small portion for distance as the majority of their time is spent looking at a monitor or camera controls within arm reach distance. 
Another benefit of Franklin bifocals are for those with strong corrections. We can achieve an overall thinner lens design by using high index glass for both distance and near lenses in the mask. 
Franklin orders are not available online, and divers should call for pricing. 

The Atomic Venom Frameless mask is one of our favorites for franklin bifocals. This is the mask I am currently diving, and the seal even works for some of us with facial hair.
Another Atomic Venom Frameless mask with prescription Franklin lenses installed here in our lab.
Scuba Pro Synergy II with prescription Franklin Bifocals.
Atomic Frameless mask with Franklin Bifocals to correct both near and distance vision.
The M100 aluminum frame dive mask with frankklin lenses fora high correction.
Franklin lenses also provide more correction than a standard dive mask bifocal in single lens masks. Here are Franklin Bifocals installed in a Scubapro Gorilla mask.

If you need any help deciding what dive mask would work best for you or what lenses will work with your prescription, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Stay safe and Happy Diving!

-Josh & The Team 

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Bifocal Dive Mask Lens Options

Diving with bifocals

You are down 60 feet on a tropical dive in Roatan, Honduras. You look down at your computer to check your bottom time, and the numbers are getting a bit fuzzier than you remember. As many of us scuba divers who wear glasses or contacts age, we face a new problem- trouble seeing our gauges, computer, or camera controls. See the Sea has a variety of options for those of us that need help not just with the distance correction but with reading distance as well. 

In this post, I will discuss:

A dive mask sitting on a shelf containing lined bifocals.
Atomic Venom Frameless Mask with custom Franklin Bifocal Lenses from See the Sea
  • Why we need bifocals when diving
  • What masks will work with bifocal lenses
  • Which bifocal option is best for me
  • How to order a bifocal prescription dive mask

The quick summary (For those short on bottom time)

If you are in a bit of a rush, and want just the “facts”, here is the basic info:

See the Sea RX can install Zeiss bifocals into any quality dive mask, whether you send one to us or buy one of our quality masks. There are primarily three options for bifocals when scuba diving.

–  Standard Bifocal (FT28). Starting at $285.00, the standard bifocal is designed for those that just need help seeing their gauges.

–  ST35. Starting at $315.00, the ST35 has a a reading section that is approximately 20% larger than on the standard bifocal. This bifocal is great for divers who spend a bit more time using their ear vision such as photographers or divers looking at macro life.

–  Franklin Bifocal. The Franklin Bifocal is a full custom option, where we install two completely different lenses on each side of the mask, one for near, and one for distance. This option, designed for professional photographers and underwater cinematographers, is the ultimate bifocal dive mask choice, as you get to choose how much near or distance lens you want. Please contact us for pricing information.

Why we need Bifocals

As we age, generally starting in our 40’s, it can become more difficult to focus on near objects, such as for reading, using our gauges, dive computer, or camera controls. This is caused by  the loss of elasticity of the lens over time

For some, reading lenses alone can help, but if you need distance correction including astigmatism, bifocals help by correcting for both the distance and near vision, so you can see the coral reef and read your gauges.

We often get asked if we can put progressive lenses in a dive mask, and the short answer is yes, but for diving traditional bifocals remain the better option. 

which masks will work for bifocal lenses

We can insert bifocals into any quality dive mask with tempered glass lenses, but there are some caveats. If you have a strong plus prescription, the lenses are going to be thickest in the center, and come towards the face. For those with stronger prescriptions, specially +sphere lenses, I encourage you to go to a higher volume mask. Masks with very high angles from the nose piece will reduce the amount of available space for the reading section of the bifocal and should be avoided. 

Currently for standard or ST35 bifocals, my favorite masks are the Scuba Pro Synergy II and the Atomic Subframe. 

For our custom Franklin Bifocals, the Atomic Venom mask works particularly well.

Prescription Atomic Subframe Mask
An Atomic Subframe with distance only prescription lenses. The Subframe works well for ST35 bifocals.
A dive mask sitting on a shelf containing lined bifocals.
An Atomic Veom Frameles mask with custom franklin bifocal leses. Please contact us for pricing on Franklin lenses.

Bifocal lens options for dive masks

See the Sea produces more bifocal dive masks than any other lens here at our lab in Houston., and we offer two bifocals online on our order page and one custom option (the Franklin Bifocal). It can be a bit confusing as to which bifocal is correct for you. We get messages daily on our chat and on the phone about the differences in our bifocal options. 

standard bifocal

The standard bifocal is the most ordered l ens at See the Sea RX.  The standard bifocal uses a 28mm st28 glass blank, which means when uncut, the width of the bifocal is 28 mm wide, but this does NOT mean you will receive a reading section 28mm wide, and in fact in almost all situations you will not. The final result will be based on the mask itself (how the lenses angle out from the nose) and your pupillary distance. I don’t want to start rambling on optics (okay I do, but you would be bored with me after about a paragraph), but the standard bifocal is a great option for divers who just need some help seeing their gauges and want their distance vision corrected (including correction for astigmatism and double vision). The result is a distance lens with a half moon reading section in the lens. If you spend more time looking through the near portion of the lens, the ST35 lens is probably better for you. 

ST35 or "Photographers' Bifocal

Both the standard bifocal and the ST35 bifocal utilize similar lens designs. The principal difference is the reading portion of the ST35 bifocal is 7mm wider (before the lens is cut) than the standard bifocal. The reading portion also extends farther down. This lens is slightly more expensive, but is worthwhile for those that spend a larger percentage of their time using the near portion of the lens, such as photographers. 

The Franklin Bifocal

The Franklin Bifocal is the ultimate custom lens for those that need distance correction and the largest possible near vision area. Benjamin Franklin, invented the original bifocal, now called Franklin Bifocals by using two different lenses in each eye, one for distance and one for near vision.

The Franklin bifocal, for those that demand the best, allows us to install the near vision lens however high up the mask you would like for your needs (photographers often request 50% or more near vision glass), as well as giving the diver edge to edge near vision, versus a half moon in the lens.

One of the disadvantages of the Franklin Bifocal is it can cause a split image near the lens lie which can take some adjustment. 

Another benefit of the Franklin Bifocal for those with higher prescriptions is the ability to install more glass for distance and near than would be possible in a one piece thick bifocal. 

To order this bifocal, please call or message us, as price is dependent on your specific vision needs. 

M100 Diving Mask with Franklin Bifocals

How to order a bifocal dive mask

To order a scuba diving mask with standard or ST35 bifocals, please visit our ordering page here. Standard bifocals start at $285 plus mask.

Turn Around time

Our standard processing time of approximately 2 business weeks applies to all our custom lens options. If you are in need of your mask sooner, please review our rush options here.

Other considerations

In general, we do not use bifocals for those just snorkeling. The exception is snorkelers who want to use a camera and are unable to see their controls without near correction. Our full face snorkel masks are also available with bifocal lenses.