The Dive Masks
Purchasing dive masks can be fun and easy. Here are some tips that will make you a pro at selecting the mask that is right for you.
- Allows you to see under water. The human eye needs a pocket of air to properly focus.
- Keeps water out of your eyes and nose. A dry face means a comfortable dive.
Rarely are masks the most expensive piece of equipment in your snorkeling or personal dive gear package. Yet there is no piece of equipment that can ruin an enjoyable time in the water faster than a leaking mask. Make sure you enjoy your next dive by selecting the right mask.
Tips for Purchasing Dive Masks
Here are some things to remember when buying a mask.
- Buy a high quality mask. You probably won’t be buying another mask for some time, so don’t skimp. Better masks have more expensive silicone skirts. This ensures a good seal and a comfortable fit. Better masks also have superior lenses which give you a clearer image under water. You will not find high quality masks at discount sporting goods stores. So look for a professional dive center to ensure you get the mask that is right for you.
- Try on several masks before you buy. Find a store with a good selection of scuba quality masks. Your local dive center should have plenty of professional divers who can help you get the right fit. Even a good quality mask that is too big or too small will leak or obstruct your vision. Remember as well that expensive does not necessarily mean a mask is right for you. You are interested in something that fits properly and is suitable for where you will be snorkeling or diving.
- Try on the mask without putting on the strap. This may sound odd, but a mask that seals properly will stick to your face when you suck in through your nose. You won’t need the strap on to test the seal. Once you exhale, the mask will drop off, but as long as you are sucking in through your nose, the mask should stay on and you should not hear any air passing through the mask.
- Purchase mask scrub for your new mask. It won’t do you any good to have a nice mask if the mask is always fogged up. A new mask must be thoroughly scrubbed before its first use. This removes the protective coating that may have adhered to the lenses during the manufacturing process. This coating will keep your mask looking good in the store, but it must be removed before you use your mask. You can usually buy a small bottle of scrub for a couple of dollars. Scrub your new mask at home before you leave for your dive. Then bring your scrub with you to your dive just in case you have a fogging issue.
- Purchase mask defog. You will want to apply mask defog to your mask prior to every dive. Mask defog fills in the tiny imperfections in the lens where moisture can collect and form the droplets that create the fog that makes it hard to see. Mask defog costs about $5 to $10. It works best if you apply the defog to your mask while it is still dry. So about 5 minutes before you start your dive, wipe the defog across the lenses of your mask with the tip of your finger. Let it dry. Then right before you place your mask on your face, thoroughly rise the defog from the lenses.
Tips for a Good Fit
Once you have a good mask, keep these things in mind to ensure your mask works right.
- Never overtighten the strap. Ironically, the most common reason a mask leaks is an overtightened strap. The mask strap should only hold your mask in place. Overtightening actually flattens out the skirt and breaks the seal. If you continue to tighten the mask, it will leak even more. If you have a mask leak, start your troubleshooting by loosening the strap.
- Wear the strap around the widest part of your head. Many snorkelers and divers make the mistake of wearing their mask strap around their necks. This can actually break the seal of the mask below the nose by overtightening the top of the mask. To prevent your mask from leaking, wear your mask so that the strap stays straight.
Choosing Prescription Lens Options
If you normally wear glasses, you may want to consider adding prescription lenses to your dive or snorkel mask. There are several options, but they all start by selecting a high quality mask. Prescription lenses are not cheap, so you want to make sure you add them to a mask that fits well and will last over time.
Basically there are two types of prescriptions that we can added to your dive mask:
- Simple Correction Lens Replacement. Simple correction is your most cost effective and quickest option as the lenses in the mask can usually be replaced in minutes. With this option, we replace the lenses in the mask with a prescription that comes close to your exact prescription. These lenses only correct vision issues involving problems with seeing at a distance. If you have issues seeing close, they will not correct your vision problem. Also, if you have astigmatism, these lenses will not address that either. One other downside is that you must choose from a very limited number of masks as the existing lenses in the mask must be removed an replaced. The Atomic SubFrame is an example of a mask where we can add a simple correction.You can check your prescription to tell whether a simple correction will work by looking for a diopter like -2.25. A negative number next to the OS (left eye) or OD (right eye) means this option may work well for you as you are nearsighted. However, a diopter like +5.00 means you are farsighted, and these lenses will not work. Also, if you see something like S x C x Axis, you have astigmatism and a simple correction may create serious problems.
- Exact Prescription Lenses. Placing your exact prescription in a mask is often the best option if you have a complex prescription, have time to wait for lenses to be ground, and can afford the higher price. With this option, we provide a special optometrist with your prescription and have special lenses ground for your mask that exactly match your prescription. This process takes about two weeks and costs more than the simple correction. However, you are not limited to only one or two masks as these lenses can be glued to the existing lenses in most masks.
Whenever purchasing a prescription mask, make sure to bring your current prescription with you to save time and ensure you get a prescription that works. Seeing underwater is important. Enjoy your next dive or snorkel adventure by making sure you have the right lenses.