If you're a swimmer with vision problems, you may find yourself ditching your eyeglasses and swimming with blurry vision. However, constant exposure to chlorine often causes damage to the cornea and wearing contacts increases your risk of eye infection from bacteria.
A solution to the problem is prescription swimming goggles, which improve vision while swimming by supplying air pockets in front of you to help light pass in and out of your eyes. Here are some tips to choose prescription swimming goggles.
Figure the Diopter Strength
The lenses in swim goggles are called diopters, which resemble the lenses in reading glasses. It is essential to match the diopter with current or new eyeglasses prescriptions.
To figure diopter, doctors use the formula ½ cylinder + sphere. "Sphere" measures diopter weakness and "cylinder" refers to the degree of astigmatism in your eyes. The sphere number will commonly be negative for nearsighted vision and positive for farsighted vision. For example, say you have a sphere of 6.0 and a cylinder of 3.0. Half of 3.0 is 1.5. Add 1.5 to 6.0, which gives you 7.5. Round down to the numbers on your current prescription instead of up to reduce eye strain.
Types of Swim Goggles
The model of swim goggles depends on your swimming style.
- If you're a racing swimmer, opt for competitive goggles. Competitive swim goggles fit snugly on the eye socket to decrease drag.
- Non-competitive swimmers who just need an option for not wearing glasses while swimming may want to consider recreational goggles. Recreational goggles have thick padding on the frame, which provides comfort and a better seal for everyday use.
- If you have a different prescription for each eye, you may be able to buy prescription custom lenses to insert separately in certain goggle models.
These are some additional features you may want to consider:
- UV Protection. When you buy swim goggles, ensure they come with a UV coating to protect your eyes from UV rays while swimming outdoors. Prolonged exposure to UV rays could cause cataracts and photokerititis (eye sunburn).
- Lens Color. For outdoor swimming, get a slight tint added to the lenses to keep more light out of your eyes. Smoke or mirrored lenses are also suitable for outdoor swimming. Mirrored goggles give more glare protection in ultra bright light. Smoke lenses still let you see clearly underwater without you having to squint. For indoor swimming, buy goggles with clear lenses.
- Custom Fit. Many swimmer develop "raccoon eye" from goggles that don't fit correctly because it cuts off circulation. The seal of the goggles should fit around the eye bone. Try on the goggles, and check for gaps between your face and goggles.
Your optician will give you more information on choosing prescription swim goggles to match your current eyeglass prescription.