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Snorkeling With Glasses?
Here's What to Do...and What NOT to Do

7 June 2016 | Mri Grout - A Lifelong Vagabond

Despite my fear of being eaten alive while swimming, I love snorkeling and seeing all of the wonderful marine life that whips through the waters around me. Or rather, their colorful blobs given I can't see anything clearly if it's further than six inches away from my face without glasses, which for obvious reasons I don't wear loose while swimming.

However, I was determined to see all of Australia's underwater world in as good of a focus as everyone else and so went off on the side quest of figuring out a cheaper alternative to prescription goggles. I then discovered the following:

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Test 1: Buying an Underwater Camera

pink jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea
*There may be some cases where this setup isn't ideal... #notafish!
I might have wanted an underwater camera and just used this as an excuse to buy one...lols. But nevertheless I did actually try this method of snapping pictures at random moving objects and viewing them afterwards. Unfortunately, however, the camera still didn't let me see while swimming (shocking, right!?) so most of the pictures turned out to be empty sea, moving seaweed, or regular debris. There were a few pictures that were of actual fish, but the quality of the camera (Kodak Playsport) wasn't really all that great so viewing them afterwards was only slighter better than not seeing them while I swam.

Conclusion: A good quality underwater camera is normally going to be more expensive than the prescription goggles you're refusing to buy. On the plus side, you get an excuse to buy an underwater camera, so definitely still 'try' this method first, just don't settle with it when trying to find an alternative to prescription googles!

Test 2: Wearing Glasses Inside the Mask

Obviously this option will restrict which kind of goggles you can buy to pretty much only those that have the lens reaching all the way across (aka: the nose bridge can't separate the two lens). They're easy enough to find though so that's not really a problem. You then just take the legs off of your glasses (I would HIGHLY recommend using a spare pair to do this with) and wedge the eye frame part of it inside the mask. With luck it's tight enough to hold them, but not too tight to bend them; if not, you have to purchase another mask until that happens because trust me, trying to glue them in place is not a good idea...

Anyway, once you have that all set up, then you must defog both your glasses and your mask before use, while simultaneously praying to Poseidon and every other water deity you can think of that it actually works.

Conclusion: DO NOT GLUE YOUR GLASSES TO YOUR SNORKELING MASK! Wedging a pair of spare glasses into a pair of goggles on the otherhand, surprisingly okay. Just remember to invest in some baby shampoo as it's a great and cheaper alternative to anti-fog spray.

Test 3: Common Prescription Goggles

I never really thought this was an option for me due to how bad my eyesight is, but when I went snorkeling on the Falla (a beautiful ex-oyster sailing ship in Cairns that I seriously recommend for those that don't get sea sick easily) I was given a pair of -8s to try on so my booking wouldn't be a complete waste.

prescription mask
They didn't really work for more than three meters away and I had a slight headache afterwards, but with them I actually got to see for the first time underwater and it got me hooked. Except there remained the giant hurdle of me not wanting to damage my eyesight more than it already was by wearing too different of a prescription. Luckily, though, I managed to discover that even though my eyes were fairly useless without glasses, they weren't worse than a -8. As it turns out my right eye is actually a rough -6 and my left a rough -7 and if someone with eyes as bad as mine can wear common prescription goggles, then you might be able to too.

Obviously, I can't read as far with them as I can with my proper glasses, but they don't give me a headache and they even let me see the sand-colored fish lying on the bottom of the ocean floor! Flounders are SO cool!

Conclusion: Common prescription goggles might not be the cheapest option for snorkeling with glasses, but they are cheaper than buying custom-made ones and they can work amazingly well.

Final Conclusion for Snorkeling With Glasses:

So there you have it. Those were my three tested methods on how to snorkel with glasses, with my personal favorite being Test 3...although I do still want a high quality underwater camera so it definitely wasn't the cheapest option! But then, when you're planning on traveling the world for years still to come and want to be able to see all of the amazing marine life you've detoured a fair bit to find, a $100 good quality mask isn't that much at all.


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