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Earth’s Tectonic Plates with Prescription ScubaPro Dive Mask

Scuba Diver in dry suitin clear water in Iceland with a scuba pro d mask with lenses installed by See the Sea RX

Diving in Iceland

Iceland, the land of fire and ice, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, from towering glaciers to majestic waterfalls. While I spent much of last year in England, I was able to find a deal on last minute flights to Iceland with the idea of exploring Iceland’s hidden gem for adventure seekers: scuba diving between the tectonic plates in water a degree or two away from freezing. While my flights were inexpensive, Iceland as a whole is expensive (something to definitely keep in mind). Packed with my scuba pro d mask and prescription lenses installed in our lab in Houston and a bunch of warm clothes, I was able to get a quick feel for Iceland’s tourism. The trip was a great experience, but I am not in a rush to return (I am, primarily, a spoiled warm water diver). In this blog, I will fill you in on my trip- things to do in Iceland, and some considerations for dive masks in cold water.

Just for context, my trip was in January/February 2024.

Scuba Diver in dry suitin clear water in Iceland with a scuba pro d mask with lenses installed by See the Sea RX
In the cold clear water in Silvia with my custom prescription lens scuba pro mask.

Scuba Diving Between Tectonic Plates

One of the most exhilarating experiences Iceland has to offer is diving at the Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park. There are two main options: Snorkeling in a dry suit (no certification required) or you can dive through the fissure. You are required to have both a dive certification as well as a dry suite certification to participate. The water hovers around 35 degrees year round.

The outing to Silfra cost near $300 including transport from the hotel as well as all equipment. You can bring your own equipment if you wish, but be sure your regulators are serviced and intended for cold water use. I did bring my prescription scuba mask as well as the Sealife phone case which I have been using more than my traditional dive camera set up on these quick trips. All the pics I took were on my Iphone (14 pro max at the time) using the Sealife case.

 

The dive is short, about 30 minutes and led in small groups with a certified instructor.

 

Overall it is a unique once in a lifetime experience.

Cold water prescription scuba mask concerns


Some divers contact us wondering if our prescription dive masks will work in near freezing or freezing water temperatures. As you can see with my mask, they hold up well. A few things you can do to prevent damage to the lenses: Try to acclimate the mask to surrounding/water temp before submerging. Going between extreme temperatures can cause the laminate to fracture.

Non diving Iceland Activities

While scuba diving between tectonic plates is a highlight of any trip to Iceland, the country offers an array of other activities in which to indulge:

  1. Golden Circle Tour: Discover Iceland’s iconic sights, including the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermal wonders of Geysir, and the historic site of Thingvellir National Park. I did not have time to take part in one of the Golden Circle Tours, but they remain one of the more popular options.

 

  1. Glacier Hiking: Strap on crampons and traverse the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland’s glaciers. Guided tours provide insight into glaciology while offering stunning views of ice formations.

 

  1. Whale Watching: Set sail from Reykjavik or Husavik for a chance to spot majestic whales, including humpbacks, orcas, and blue whales, in their natural habitat.

 

  1. Northern Lights Hunting: During the winter months, chase the elusive aurora borealis across Iceland’s dark skies for a mesmerizing display of dancing colors. I missed out on seeing the northern lights the one night I went out. The tour does offer a voucher to try again within a year or two, but it is unlikely I will be back. This was also not a favorite of mine as the first half hour of the tour was picking up other tourists at other hotels (and thirty to forty five minutes of drop offs at the end) and then driving around in a mini bus to locations which may offer the chance to view the lights. The tour staff were friendly, but I would probably find another way of doing this if I was to go again. 

 

  1. Relax in Hot Springs: Unwind in Iceland’s geothermal pools and hot springs, such as the iconic Blue Lagoon or the secluded Secret Lagoon, surrounded by stunning landscapes. I chose to go to Sky Lagoon which is a bit newer and located a little closer to the center of Reykjavik. My pictures of Sky Lagoon are seen on the right.
A view of outside the sky lagoon center in SIlfra. Water is seen in the horizon. A sign is in front of the building.
Horizon seen over warm water in Sky Lagoon.
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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Our new lab is open! (Important address change)

A prescription dive mask with custom lenses sits on a table in front of a photo of a sea turtle.

See the sea rx opens larger lab in Houston

When I first started See the Sea RX, i was a diver frustrated with the prescription dive mask options available on the market. 

I remember being so scared after installing all our equipment that we would never receive an order. I never expected the tremendous response we have received and the thousands and thousands of divers, swimmers, and snorkelers who have trusted us with seeing clear in the water. 

I am excited to announce our next chapter: we have fully completed our transition to our larger lab with almost double the work space of our home for the last few years. 

Please take note of our new address, which is the best place to visit us, send us your dive mask for prescription lenses (such as bifocals), or shoot us some of your underwater photos to hang up:

See the Sea RX
8700 Long Point Road
Suite 203
Houston, Texas 77055

We have worked to update the address everywhere we can find, but if you find a spot it needs to be updated, please let us know!

A prescription dive mask with custom lenses sits on a table in front of a photo of a sea turtle.
Scubapro D-Mask with custom prescription lenses installed at our new lab space.
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Prescription Dive Masks for Strong Prescriptions

Scuba diving mask with light pink frame and higher strength prescription lenses.

You have a super strong prescription and scuba dive- what do you do?

One of the biggest rewards for us is when we can help someone with a strong prescription dive when other opticals told them they can’t make a dive mask for their needs. We have produced masks with lenses as strong as -28!

I get phone calls every day from divers who ask if we can use their prescription as it is strong. Most of the time, their prescriptions are what we consider relatively moderate (+4 through -4), and those prescriptions are no issue in really any of our dive masks.

Strong prescriptions than that are not an issue for us (and we routinely make masks with high cylinder powers or prism), but higher power prescription dive masks tend to work better in some masks than other masks. 

Ready to order a dive mask for a strong prescription?

Prescription Dive Mask Order Page

Click Here

What is a strong prescription?

When creating lenses for prescription scuba diving masks, we require any prescription with a single vision spherical equivalent of -6 and stronger, or +4 and stronger to use our high index glass lenses. This enables us to produce a thinner lens in this prescription ranges. This is also the line where we start considering what masks can support these stronger lenses without risking the lens touching the diver’s face or other complications. 

Scuba diving mask with light pink frame and higher strength prescription lenses.
M200 dive mask with strong prescription lenses

Best scuba diving masks for stronger prescriptions

Divers and snorkelers do not have to buy a mask from us to install corrective lenses, but in general there are several factors that should be considered when choosing a mask to accommodate stronger prescriptions in dive masks. 

  • Smaller lens size. This enables us to produce a prescription lens as close to edge to edge as possible without increasing thickness dramatically.
  • Deeper skirt. A deeper skirt keeps the dive mask a bit further from the diver’s face preventing issues with lens thickness. 
 
 

Below are the masks we recommend most often for those with stronger prescriptions which we keep in stock.

Up close view of a scuba pro d-mask with bifocal lenses

Scubapro d-mask ($185 + lenses)

The scuba pro d-mask which can be reviewed in depth in my article here, comes in three sizes to accommodate a wide range of faces. The lenses contain a slight hue to provide color correction at depth and a UV coating to protect your eyes at the surface.

IST m200 Aluminum Frame Mask ($94 + Lenses)

The M200, which is an average fit masks fits those with slightly narrower faces as well as up to a medium/ regular fit. It only comes in one size and the aluminum frame does provide robust support for the mask. We carry the M200 in clear and black skirts as well as several frame colors.

IST m100 Aluminum frame

The M100 is the bigger brother to the M200 dive mask and is a bit larger. Like the m200 we carry it in a black or clear skirt as well as several color options for the frame. We also carry the M100 with color correcting / mirror lenses which can also support stronger prescriptions.

What scuba masks should I avoid with a stronger prescription?

Atomic Subframe with stronger prescription lenses

There are no hard and fast rules as each mask and each prescription are different, but in general, as the prescription strength increases, we discourage divers from using the synergy II or frameless masks which are very popular for divers with milder prescriptions. The Atomic Subframe also can have lens thickness concerns with increased prescription strength. These are all very popular masks on our website and for divers in general, and they should absolutely be considered for prescriptions within the more moderate range. 

other considerations for snorkelers, swimmers, and divers with strong prescriptions!

If you do not have much astigmatism (you can give us a call to discuss whether this applies to you or not), some of our masks support less expensive stock lenses (available here). Stock lens masks generally support sphere correction from -8 up to +4 without correcting for any astigmatism, prism, or those that need a multifocal lens. 

If you are just swimming or snorkeling, our prescription swim goggles and full face snorkel masks can support your exact prescription, including high powers, for a lower price than our glass dive masks.

 

Prescription Swim Goggles

Our prescription swim goggles start at around $200 including prescription. We recently shipped out a swim goggle with +15 lenses!

Prescription Full Face Snorkel Masks

Our prescription full face masks are also a more affordable option for those with strong prescriptions who only want to be able to snorkel.

If you have any questions regarding unique prescriptions or want help picking out a prescription dive mask, don’t hesitiate to reach out!

Picture of 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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What’s new (with prescription dive masks) in 2021?

A diver under blue water in Cozumel, Mexico is wearing a scuba pro d mask as well as a Hollis Rebreather.

Whats new at See the Sea?

2020 was supposed to be the year (at least of puns) for vision correction. Like a lot of folks, 2020 was full of challenges for me as well as the diving community at large. I was super excited to receive my new Ikelite housing for my Canon 5D MK IV in February last year with plans of all the diving I would do throughout 2020… well we know how that went. I am still getting some use out of my housing, and we are Ikelite dealers if you ever have any questions about getting a camera/underwater camera set up. I have a few trips planned for this year, and I am super excited to post pics and vids from those trips. 

I unfortunately had a bad bout of COVID in the middle of 2020 which included hospitalization. There remain a lot of questions regarding diving post COVID. I am very lucky to be friends with Dr. Robert Sanders, the medical director, and hyperbaric & diving medical specialist, for NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab. Hopefully we can post an interview with Dr. Sanders about recommendations regarding COVID & diving soon.

On the positive side, See the Sea RX continues to grow, and we have continued to help divers around the world see clearly with underwater lenses. I authored an article about prescription dive masks for Diver’s Alert Network which was published in Alert Magazine in May, 2020. You can read the article by clicking on the Alert Diver Cover to the right.

We have also made a few changes to the site, and added a few mask options that I will review below. 

Scuba pro d mask

A diver under blue water in Cozumel, Mexico is wearing a scuba pro d mask as well as a Hollis Rebreather.

We recently added the new Scuba Pro D-Mask as an option for our various prescription lenses last month.

If you want more information on the D Mask, check out my full article on them here.

The D-Mask is available in three different fits, and comes standard with UV coated & tinted lenses. We can install any of our custom prescription lenses including single vision, high index, bifocals, or readers. 

Up close view of a scuba pro d-mask with bifocal lenses

Full face snorkel masks

As an authorized Oceanreef dealer, we sell the highest quality full face snorkeling masks with and without prescription lenses. We added them to our site in late 2019, but since then we have made a few changes. I covered prescription full face snorkeling masks in a blog post here.

You can now order full face snorkeling masks without prescription lenses on our order page: https://seethesearx.com/order-full-face-mask/

 

Custom reading lenses

While most folks will never need a mask like the one on the right (a custom Atomic Venom with dual reading lenses made for rebreather diver and photographer Jill Heinerth), most of us will need some help with seeing our gauges or dive computer as we get older. 

If your gauges are looking a little fuzzy these days, reading lenses can help. If you have any special reading lens needs or want something fully custom like Jill, give us a shout, and we will draw up a draft for your review. 

The benefit of the dual reading lens mask you see here is it allows Jill to see her gauges & rebreather HUD from the bottom of the mask while also using the top of the mask for her camera controls & monitor. 

Other updates & Changes

We have made various other changes to See the Sea RX including adding atomic aquatics diving masks, adding more prescription swim goggle options as well, and working on innovative lenses to help you see better while diving.

As always, if you have any questions about prescription dive mask lenses or any of our products, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Picture of 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. 

Picture of 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.