Your scuba mask provides your view to the vast underwater world of the ocean. There is an endless view of coral, fish and sea mammals in our oceans and seas and you will want, and need, a high quality scuba mask to allow you many years of underwater viewing enjoyment. Scuba masks come in an endless choice of style and color, but there are many things to consider when purchasing your first, or tenth, scuba mask, including: field of vision, a high-grade silicone skirt for a lasting and comfortable seal, comfortable nose pocket and a high-grade, flexible silicone strap and strap fasteners.
Buying a high quality scuba mask and its proper care will ensure the longevity of the mask. Any scuba diving retailer should have a wide variety of scuba masks available for you to choose from. Every face is different and every scuba mask does not fit every face. You should try on a variety of scuba masks, of different shapes and sizes; to ensure the scuba mask you purchase fits you properly and will be comfortable for long scuba dives. If you have trouble finding a scuba mask or are unsure about what size of scuba mask you need your retailer should be able to help you find the right scuba mask.
There are many scuba masks available. Take the time to choose the right scuba mask for you. Your eyes will appreciate it and you will enjoy the beauty of scuba diving that much more.
Tips To Choose When Buying a Prescription Scuba Diving Mask
Scuba masks are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes each offering a varying field of vision. The two most common styles of scuba masks offer either a 3-pane or a 4-pane lens. The 3-pane lens offers a single front lens with left and right side windows. A 4-pane scuba mask separates the front lens into two pieces and includes the left and right side windows. The style of scuba mask you choose will depend on your level of comfort with your field of vision while wearing the scuba mask. Some scuba divers prefer the single front lens because the frame does not impede their vision while looking side to side; other scuba divers prefer the 2-pane front lens because the style and comfort is similar to wearing sunglasses.
The shape of the scuba mask and the silicone skirt on the mask must conform to the shape of your face to provide you with a comfortable fit. Ensuring the silicone skirt is a high-grade, flexible silicone can help to ensure the scuba mask conforms to the shape of your face and the long life of your scuba mask. Some people are allergic to different types of rubber, if you have an allergy to rubber, be sure to choose a silicone scuba mask because silicone is hypoallergenic. Always talk to your scuba diving retailer about the alternatives available to you.
When trying on scuba masks you will notice the different shapes of the nose pockets. The nose pocket protects and cushions your nose, helps to keep your scuba mask from fogging during a dive and helps you to maintain equalization. Ensure the size and shape of your nose pocket is comfortable; not too tight and not too large. This will improve not only the comfort of your scuba mask, but your ability to purge your mask efficiently.
There are increasingly different styles of scuba mask straps on the market. You may like the factory issue strap on your scuba mask or you may want to purchase a separate strap. Scuba mask straps are available in a single strap or a double strap design. The single strap should wrap around the center of the back of your head. The benefit of the double strap is that you can position the top strap on the upper part of your head and the bottom strap on the lower part of your head to offer extra stability and comfort. Most scuba mask straps are rubber or silicone and fasten with a post-hole belt enclosure. Newer scuba masks offer a slide-lock type enclosure, which allows you to adjust the scuba mask quickly and easily when wearing the mask.
Scuba masks are constantly improving. If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses on a daily basis you can purchase a scuba mask without having to wear your glasses or contact lenses under your mask. Many manufacturers will create custom scuba masks which include your prescription in the front lens.
A good sign you have chosen the right scuba mask for your face
When the mask stays on your face comfortably without using the straps to hold it in place. You should try this simple test with each scuba mask you try on for the first time:
- Place the scuba mask over your eyes and mouth ensuring the mask is in the correct position.
- Take a quick, light breath in through your nose and immediately start to breathe through your mouth as if you are scuba diving.
- This will create a slight suction between the scuba mask and your face. The scuba mask should stay on your face. If you must push the scuba mask against your face, or inhale repeatedly to help the mask stay on your face, the mask is not a good fit.
- Keep the scuba mask on your face for approximately one minute. This will help you to determine how tight the seal is and how comfortable the mask is on your face.
- Exhale gently through your nose to release the seal on your scuba mask and remove the mask from your face.
There should be no mark on your face from the scuba mask. If there is a red line around your face from the seal of the mask, the seal was too tight or the mask is not the proper size for your face. Try the test a second time. If you still have a red mark on your face after you remove the mask, you need to continue your search for a scuba mask. Remember, a good scuba mask is one that’s comfortable, doesn’t leak and is easy to use.
Maintaining Your Prescription Scuba Mask
Almost all scuba diving gear requires some preparation before it can be used. When you bring home your scuba mask, you will notice an oily film on the lens of your mask and sometimes on the strap of your mask. Most manufacturers rub a light oil onto the silicone to help protect the silicone during shipping. You need to remove this film before you use your scuba mask, otherwise your mask will continually fog while diving. An oily film on your mask will prevent it from sealing properly or the mask may slip off your face during a dive.
To clean your scuba mask, apply a pea-sized drop of toothpaste, not gel, to the inside of the lens. Using your fingertips rub the toothpaste in a circular motion around the entire surface of the lens. Do not use your fingernails; this may scratch the lens of the mask. Rinse with clean water and repeat until the film is completely removed. You can also rub toothpaste up and down the strap to remove any film. Always rinse your mask thoroughly after cleaning.
The key to clear vision, while scuba diving and keeping your scuba mask in good condition, is proper maintenance during and after each dive. These maintenance procedures will help to keep your mask in good shape for many years of scuba diving:
- Use a defogging solution before every dive, even when diving more than once in the same day. This will prevent your scuba mask from fogging during a dive. You can purchase a commercially prepared defogging solution from any reputable scuba diving retailer.
- Squeeze a drop or two onto the inside lens of your mask and gently rub the solution around to cover the inside completely.
- Dip your mask briefly into water, swirl the water around the inside of your mask very quickly and empty the water from your mask. A quick rinse will remove any excess defogging solution from the inside of your mask. You do not want to get defogging solution in your eyes, especially while diving, since it can cause stinging and irritation.
- If you don’t want to use a commercially prepared defogging solution you have a defogging solution readily available and it’s free, your saliva. Your saliva will prevent your scuba mask from fogging just as well as any commercial defogging solution. The enzymes in your saliva stick to the lens of your mask like a commercial defogging solution and you will never find yourself without a defogger while on a dive.
- Your Scuba mask must not face-down on anywhere as salt, sand & grit may scratch its lens. If you don’t have any hard case always place your mask face up when you are not wearing.
- Rinse your scuba mask in clean, freshwater after each dive and dry it thoroughly before storing it in its hard case. After a dive, your mask will be covered in a salty residue and/or dirt. This must be rinsed clean to prevent the silicone on your mask from degrading. Your mask must be completely dry before storing it to ensure the silicone stays clean and odor-free.
- Always store your scuba mask in its hard case. If your mask did not come with a hard case purchase an after-market hard case. This will protect your mask from dirt and abrasives and protect it while traveling. Always store the case out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will break down the silicone after years of exposure.
- Periodically repeat the toothpaste treatment to keep the lens of your scuba mask clean. A good rinse after each dive helps to keep your mask clean, but to ensure there is no residue or grit left on your scuba mask you must properly clean it on a regular basis.