Can You Go Snorkeling With Contact Lenses?

If you wear contact lenses on a daily basis you might be wondering whether or not you’ll be able to go snorkeling.

Is it safe to snorkel in deep waters while wearing contacts? Even if it’s safe will you be able to see anything?

There is good news and bad news. Let’s take a look at everything as we discuss the question in a lot more detail below.

Can You Go Snorkeling With Contact Lenses?

Yes, you can go snorkeling while wearing contact lenses. You will be able to stay safe and you’ll see all the beautiful sea life in detail. But there are some specific rules you have to follow, plus there is a much better solution if you’re serious about snorkeling.

6 Tips For Snorkeling With Contact Lenses

Everyone will tell you it’s better to wear the best optical snorkel mask you can find when snorkeling, but it’s actually possible to wear contacts. Keep these tips in mind and you should be okay wearing any mask you can get your hands on:

  1. Don’t wear hard contact lenses
  2. Always keep your eyes closed
  3. Wear snorkel fins on your feet
  4. Carry some spares just in case
  5. Let people know your situation
  6. Disposable lenses are better

1 – Don’t wear hard contact lenses – Hard and gas permeable lenses aren’t recommended when snorkeling. You’ll end up with sore eyes and the increase in water pressure as you go deeper will cause blurry vision. It’s not worth running into problems that can be avoided.

2 – Always keep your eyes closed – Always keep your eyes closed when you take your mask off. Keep them closed if water finds its way inside your mask too. It shouldn’t if you’re wearing one of the best snorkel masks, but there is a small chance your contacts could fall out.

3 – Wear snorkel fins on your feet – It’s tough when you can’t see properly without contacts. You need to find other ways you can stay safe in the event of an emergency. If you lose your contacts it helps to have snorkel fins so you can reach the surface and treat water easily.

4 – Carry some spares just in case – If you always close your eyes when your mask is leaking or being taken off you should be fine. But it’s still worth carrying spare contacts just in case. Your day will be ruined if you’re stuck out at sea unable to snorkel.

5 – Let people know your situation – Do you plan on booking a snorkeling tour? If so, make sure you tell them you’re wearing contacts. They will be able to pay closer attention to you. Everyone should snorkel with a buddy at all times and they should know you wear contacts too.

6 – Disposable lenses are better – Imagine the kinds of things that might end up contaminating your contact lenses. If you don’t want to deal with eye infections it might be worth using disposable contact lenses. You won’t need to clean them out thoroughly after snorkeling.

Wearing An Optical Corrective Snorkel Mask

Anyone who plans on snorkeling for more than a few hours on holiday should think about investing in an optical snorkel mask. It’s essentially a snorkel mask with corrective lenses built into it. Let’s look at a few reasons why they’re probably a good idea for most people:

  • Relax and enjoy yourself
  • Different lenses for each eye
  • Very affordable these days

Relax and enjoy yourself – Swimming underwater while a giant turtle floats past you is one of the coolest things in the world. You want to enjoy it without worrying about anything going wrong. It’s easy to feel quite anxious when you’re snorkeling with contacts.

When you’re wearing a corrective snorkel mask you can let your hair down and enjoy all the wonderful creatures you see.

Different lenses for each eye – Someone with different lens strengths in each eye might assume they won’t be able to wear an optical mask. Companies will put a different one in each side depending on your specific needs. You just need to let them know what you want.

Very affordable these days – Optical snorkel masks used to be expensive when they were first introduced to the market. These days they don’t cost much more than regular masks, even though qualified technicians put lenses in especially for you.

How To Choose An Optical Snorkeling Mask

If you decide to stick with contact lenses you can choose any snorkel mask you want. Just make sure it’s good enough to prevent water from getting inside. Those who would prefer an optical snorkeling mask only really need to know two specific things:

  1. Contact lens prescription
  2. Traditional or full face mask

1 – Contact lens prescription – Once you find an optical snorkel mask you’ll need to make sure you know how to select the right lenses. You can find the information by checking your contact lens prescription. Options might look something like below:

Nearsighted – -1.0 to -8.0 (increments of 0.5)
Farsighted – +1.0 to +4.0 (increments of 0.5)

If increments of 0.5 are too big for you just drop a notch down. Those requiring lenses with bifocals in them might have to look a touch harder for a suitable mask.

2 – Traditional or full face mask – Traditional snorkel masks are the same ones you’ve seen for decades. Full face snorkel masks have burst onto the scene in recent years. There are massive differences between each one and you’ll need to decide which one you like best.

They both have their positives and negatives, so we’re not going to declare a winner. Let’s just say those who choose to wear contacts usually prefer full face masks. When it comes to corrective lenses there are more options when you opt for a traditional design.

A Quick Word Of Warning

The FDA doesn’t recommend exposing your contact lenses to any type of water, including lakes and oceans where you’ll go snorkeling. Who knows what kinds of viruses and dangerous microbes you’ll come into contact with? A minor eye infection or irritation is the least of your worries.

You also have to worry about conditions that could potentially affect your sight longterm after you leave the water. Corneal ulcers are a good example. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s something to think about.

Once You’ve Finished Snorkeling

If you wear disposable contacts throw them away the moment you come out of the water. Find artificial tears approved for use with contact lenses and use them on your eyes. Once finished you can replace the contacts and get on with your day. Don’t leave them in.

Is Snorkeling With Contact Lenses A Good Idea?

Now you know how to snorkel while wearing your contact lenses. Follow the tips and you shouldn’t run into any difficulties. But you know how awesome optical snorkel masks are too. So is snorkeling with contacts a good idea given the alternative?

I guess it will depend on your own personal preferences. Make sure you do what feels right for you. And make sure you come to a decision before going on holiday because you won’t find any optical corrective snorkeling masks on a random tropical island.