Prolonged exposure to chlorine can cause start to eat away at the corneal surface of the eye. This may cause itchy, irritated eyes, or temporary blindness. Contact lens wearers fear the loss of contact lenses, and often swim with their eyes closed. If you wear a goggle, you can open your eyes, and not worry about losing a lens. Also, contact lenses may protect you from the above mentioned problems, but they actually increase the risk of one getting an infection from microorganisms in the water that attach to the lenses causing bacteria to form. Therefore, swimming goggles can protect your eyes from these ailments. Also, when swimming outdoors, swim goggles can protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation, and they can also have a tinted lens to shield you from the sun. If you wear a prescription, swim goggles can be fit with your prescription in them to help you see underwater. Here's what to look for:
Ultraviolet Protection: If you are swimming outdoors, make sure your goggle protects you from ultraviolet radiation. (For more on UV, see UV and its Effects on the Eyes).
Proper Seal: The most important thing is selecting a goggle is a proper seal. For a goggle to properly work, it must create a good seal so water cannot seep into the goggle. You want the goggle to fit on the bone around the eyes, not inside the eye socket itself. An improperly fit goggle will cause "raccoon eyes". This is because the goggle rests on the socket, instead of the bone, and cuts off circulation. Also, the goggle must seal completely. Put the goggle on and make sure you can see no visible gaps between the goggle and your face. If making a prescription in the lens, you may want to take the goggle home first, and make sure it seals properly before you go through the expense of a prescription lens.
Lens Color: If swimming outdoors, you may want to put a slight tint in the lens to help block the amount of sunlight getting to your eyes. A smoke lens is still light enough to see underwater, but can block enough light so you don't have to squint.
Prescription Lenses: If you wear a prescription, you want to make sure that the goggle you select can be fit with a prescription. Many goggle companies do not offer this option. There are two type of prescription options: Step Diopter: is a pre-fabricated goggle in spherical prescription lenses analogous to half-eye reading glasses. You pick the goggle that is closest to your prescription instead so that you can see, but won't see perfectly. A Custom Goggle is like your regular glasses where we make a prescription lens with your exact prescription into the goggle. Generally, step diopter goggles work for most people. Those with powers over -8.00 or with astigmatism over -1.00 (second number in your prescription or the number written under cylinder) should consider custom made goggles as vision will be compromised in a step diopter goggle. If you have different prescription powers in each eye, you want to pick a goggle like the Vju as you can put different lenses in each eye. Also, a good rule of thumb is to round down, rather than up in choosing a step diopter goggle. (i.e. your prescription is -2.75, choose -2.50) If you have trouble deciding what power lenses to choose, consult your doctor, or ask us.
Recommended Style: View has the V-3 and V-500 that you can interchange with pre-made prescription lenses. This is good if your prescription changes or if you sometimes wear contacts. You can put the lens with no prescription on over contacts, or wear the ones with the prescription in them. Barracuda makes a wide variety of swim goggles. They are famous for their Positive Pressure Seal" instead of suction. It is a sponge-like material to help prevent too much pressure, and won't stick to your face. They have both step diopter and custom made options. Rec-Specs offers custom made swim goggles. Hilco has kids and adult swim goggles, and has the Vantage Kids and Vantage Adult Swim Goggles step diopter goggle in plus and minus prescriptions and different powers for each eye and this fits children and adults. For more children's swim goggles, see the children's eyewear section.