Can people with poor eyesight scuba dive?
The answer is yes. Proper diver safety relies in part on keeping a keen eye on your buddy, your location and your gauges. But a lack of 20/20 vision is by no means a barrier to diving. Many people with mild vision impairment don’t need to take any corrective action, as objects in water are naturally magnified by 33 percent. But if corrective measures are needed, there are several methods of compensating for sight problems underwater, making for safer, more enjoyable dives.
According to Joan Miscucci, a Clinical Studies Coordinator, you can wear a mask with prescription lenses or Disposable soft contact lenses under a regular mask. Hard contact lenses or gas permeable lenses are contraindicated as they may have more suction onto the eye due to increased pressure under water, causing pain or discomfort, or cause decreased vision due to bubbles being trapped under the lens. Divers needing bifocal lenses to see small print, can wear small stick on magnifying lenses placed on their mask. These can be purchased at most large dive equipment stores or an optician’s office. Is diving ok after corrective eye surgery? In most cases, yes, but it would be advisable to check with your ophthalmologist first.
Wearing contact lenses underwater also means keeping the eyes closed when performing any skills that require the flooding or removal of the mask. If you are enrolling in a scuba course, be sure to tell your instructor if you wear contacts so that he or she will allow you to keep your eyes closed during skills, and to wear a mask during surface water skills or swim tests.
Similarly, if you’re using vision-correcting equipment, from contacts to prescription masks, make sure to alert your buddy: if you should lose your mask underwater, they need to know that they’ll need to help you find it. In terms of comfort, even soft contact lens wearers often report some dryness as a result of diving; it’s a good idea to bring lubricating drops with you to the site for use before and after diving. Rinsing lenses in fresh saline solution between dives can also minimize irritation from residual salt water; divers should consider using disposable contacts for live-aboard trips so that they can use fresh ones each day.
Very important: Always make sure you discuss and make decisions about your eye care based upon a formal appointment with your optician.
For more information and to book and eye examination please contact us:
McKenna & Scott Pinelands
Tel: 021 531 1953