Snorkeling is a fun and inexpensive activity that can be done anywhere with water and a snorkeling or diving mask. But what about the people who don’t have 20/20 vision and need to wear prescription glasses on a daily basis? Can I snorkel with contact lenses? Well, lucky for those who are short or long-sighted, but yes, you can still partake in this super fun activity! There are just a few considerations to think about and some tips to follow to ensure you can snorkel when wearing contact lenses.

Can I Snorkel with Contact Lenses?

Yes, you can most definitely snorkel with contact lenses! In fact, you can wear contact lenses in the ocean and it is completely safe. There is no reason to miss out on the amazing things underwater. However, here are a few things to consider before snorkeling with contact lenses.

A blue mask and a black snorkel.
Can I go snorkeling when wearing contact lenses?

How Do I Prepare for Snorkeling with Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses are a modern marvel, and yet can still be a bit awkward. You will need to make sure that you have clean hands before putting in your contact lenses. This is because if you have dirt on your hands, this can be transferred into your eye which may lead to infection.

You will also need to make sure that you don’t have any sand or debris on your hands when putting in your contact lenses. This can irritate your eye and cause you discomfort before you even get into the water!

Try to put the snorkeling mask on before you enter the water. This ensures that water will not splash into your eye when jumping in.

Will the Salt-Water Sting my Eyes?

I’ve been a contact wearer for over a decade, and a scuba diver for seven years and the salt-water has never irritated my eyes. However, you may find that your eyes are more sensitive.

If you are worried about the salt-water stinging your eyes, then try to adjust and put on your mask before hitting the water. If water does get into your mask, then just close your eyes, take off your mask, wipe the water off your face, and place the mask back on, before opening your eyes again.

Risks of Snorkeling with Contact Lenses

The risks are minimal and rare but can happen. These include:

  • Sand or dirt going into your eye and irritating your contact lenses
  • Water splashing into your eye and irritating your contact lenses
  • You may rub your eye more often
  • The contact lens can slide or fold over in your eye
  • The contact lens could slide out of your eye

Tips for snorkeling with contact lenses

  • Wear your mask before you enter the water
  • Take off the mask only when you are back on the boat or on shore
  • Don’t rub your eyes
  • Close your eyes when clearing or adjusting your mask

Other tips for Snorkeling with Contact Lenses

If you are on a day trip to the beach, then I would highly recommend you take a spare pair of contact lenses with you. You should also carry a small bottle of contact lenses solution or saline.

This is because there is the chance of some sand or debris getting into your eye. The best way to clean this out straight away is by dropping some contact lenses solution into your eye to wash away the dirt. If it is very irritating, then you can take the lens out, rinse it in the solution and put it back in, or replace it with a new lens.

What other options are there instead of Contact Lenses?

If you are not a contact lens wearer, or you do not want to wear them for snorkeling, then you can look into alternatives to contact lenses. These include:

Getting a Prescription Mask

PRO:
The glass lenses will be made according to your specific prescription and can be adjusted for your Left and Right eye.

CON:
These can be costly but will be a worthy investment as long as your prescription does not change too much over the years.

Getting Stick-on Prescription Stickers

PRO:
Inexpensive, and can be easily replaced if your prescription changes.

CON:
The stickers can wear out over time and peel off.

Wearing your Glasses under the Mask

PRO:
You can use your normal eye-glasses, and you can still see when you take off the mask.

CON:
It can be uncomfortable wearing your glasses and a mask over it. There is a risk you can break your glasses during an activity like snorkeling.

Going without Glasses or Contact Lenses

PRO:
Water makes objects appear closer and larger in the water. This means if your prescription is not that strong, then the water may actually improve your eyesight.

CON:
The water will not suddenly give you 20 / 20 vision. You will also still need glasses when you exit the water.

If you are wondering can I snorkel with contact lenses, then the answer is a clear YES. But you will need to consider some factors to ensure that you do not get a risk of infection, or lose a contact lens in the water. Make sure that your hands are always clean when touching your eyes. And try to keep water away from the eyes so that it does not irritate or move the contact lens. Snorkeling is a fun activity that no one should miss out on, and by following a few basic tips, you can ensure you won’t miss out either!

Emma was terrified of the ocean but dove into her Open Water 7 years ago and hasn't looked back since! She worked as an underwater videographer for several years and is now a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. She currently runs a dive shop on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand and is the founder of Down To Scuba.

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