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How to Choose the Right Snorkel and Scuba Mask

a person wearing scuba mask underwater

Many assume that wearing eyeglasses means they can’t enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving. But did you know masks are available with prescription lenses? Whether you need eyeglasses or have 20/20 vision, finding the perfect mask is important. 


The ideal mask hugs your face securely, keeping the water out, and letting you see clearly all around. Things like what it's made of or how it's shaped can affect which you pick. With options for every eye prescription and face type, don’t let poor vision stop you. Find your perfect fit and start discovering the underwater world in focus! 


Why Do We Need Scuba Masks


An image of scuba diving mask with plain background

Many think scuba diving is like swimming in a pool, but the ocean environment differs. When diving, you explore reefs and shipwrecks that can be 20 feet below or more. The water pressure is much greater at those depths than at the surface. That’s why equalizing the pressure in your mask and body is so important when scuba diving.


Without a mask, opening your eyes underwater would be next to impossible. Your eyes are meant to function in air, not water so that everything will look blurry. A mask solves this by creating an air space before your eyes. It lets you see all the amazing sea life that thrives below the surface. With a quality mask that fits your face well, you’ll stay comfortable exploring the underwater world without barriers between you and the incredible sights below.


Take a Look at the Frame’s Window Design


person looking up from underwater

The window design is an essential factor in scuba diving and snorkeling masks. The window refers to the mask part that allows you to see underwater. 


Different masks have various window designs, each with benefits and considerations. Let’s explore the different window designs in scuba diving and snorkeling masks.


Single Window Mask

As the name suggests, the single-window mask has a single large window covering both eyes. This design offers a wide field of vision, allowing you to see clearly in front of you without any obstructions. This is perfect if you want an unobstructed view of the underwater world. The single-window design is popular among divers and snorkelers who prefer a clear, uninterrupted view.


Two Window Design

The two-window design features two separate windows, one for each eye. This design offers a more streamlined profile and can provide a better fit for individuals with different face shapes. The two windows allow for better depth perception, making it easier to gauge distances underwater. Additionally, the two-window design can accommodate prescription lenses directly into the mask without having to use an insert.  This provides clear vision to divers and snorkelers who require corrective eyewear.


Three Window Design

The three-window design incorporates three windows, one in the center and small windows on the sides of the mask.  This design offers a wider peripheral vision, allowing you to see more of your surroundings underwater. The center window provides a clear view straight ahead, while the side windows enhance your peripheral vision, making it easier to spot marine life and navigate underwater.


Full Face Mask

 A full-face mask is a unique design that covers the entire face, including the eyes, nose, and mouth. It provides a more comprehensive experience, allowing you to breathe through your nose and mouth without needing a separate snorkel. The window extends from the forehead to the chin, offering a wide field of vision. The mask also provides a secure and comfortable fit, making it the best choice for extended snorkeling sessions.  


Disclaimer: there have been issues with these types of masks causing carbon monoxide poisoning from breathing your air.  Use these masks with caution, and take them off if you start to feel lightheaded.  Many resorts have now banned these kinds of masks from being used on excursions.  


Low-Volume Mask

A low-volume mask has a smaller internal volume, holding less air space. This design brings the window closer to your eyes, reducing the distance between your eyes and the lens. The low-volume design provides several advantages, including easier equalization, reduced drag underwater, and a wider field of vision. It is a popular choice among free divers and spearfishers who require a mask with minimal internal volume.


High Volume Mask

In contrast to the low-volume mask, a high-volume mask has a larger internal volume, creating more air space between the face and the lens. This design benefits divers who wear prescription lenses or require additional space for equalization. The high-volume mask is also more comfortable for individuals with larger faces or who prefer extra breathing room.


So, the window design of a scuba diving or snorkeling mask plays a crucial role in your underwater experience. Consider your preferences, needs, and diving conditions when choosing the right window design for your next underwater adventure.


Choosing the Dive Mask’s Skirt Color


 person holding scuba dive mask with both hands

The scuba mask skirt creates a seal with your face to prevent water entry. Typically made of soft, flexible silicone, it conforms to your face contours for comfort and a watertight seal. Skirt quality is crucial—an ill-fitting or uncomfortable skirt can cause leaks and discomfort during dives.


Other than the fit, the color of the skirt may also affect your diving experience. The two common variations are black and translucent.


Black Skirts

Black skirts are popular with technical divers and photographers. They reduce light and glare, which is beneficial in some conditions. They also minimize distractions, allowing focus on the underwater environment. Some divers find black skirts create a more immersive experience through reduced peripheral vision and a tunnel vision effect.


Clear or Translucent  Skirts

Clear skirts come in various colors, offering a different experience. They allow more light into the mask for a brighter, more open underwater feel, which is helpful for new divers who may feel claustrophobic with less visibility. Opaque skirts also reduce glare and are suitable for bright conditions or areas with strong sunlight.


The choice between black and clear skirts ultimately comes down to personal preference. However, it is still important to consider your diving environment, light conditions, and comfort level. 


Choosing the Right Prescription Options 


 a scuba mask lying on a stone

If you wear vision-corrective eyewear, you must know that a scuba mask cannot be layered over your standard glasses. Therefore, you will need to incorporate prescription lenses into your scuba mask.


Four techniques are available for incorporating prescription lenses into snorkel/scuba masks. 


Full Lens Prescription with RX6: 

The RX6 technique involves installing prescription lenses that cover the entire lens area of the mask. This technique is popular among divers and snorkelers. 


However, it’s important to note that the RX6 option has prescription limitations. This can be done in double window masks only. It works best for individuals with low hyperopia (+ powers) or those with low to mid-range myopia (- powers), 


Prescription Adapters/Inserts:

The Rx Adapter technique uses an adapter with the prescription that fits inside the mask. Denoted as RXADT, it is affordable and accommodates almost any prescription.


The adapter piece is custom-made to your prescription and securely fits inside the mask. The Rx Adapter technique suits individuals with various prescription needs, including those with higher astigmatism or complex prescriptions. It also allows a wider range of masks to be used including single and triple window masks. 


Pre-Made Lenses with RXSTEP:

The RXSTEP technique involves using pre-made lenses that come close to your prescription but may offer a different match. These lenses suit individuals with mild astigmatism (less than 1.00 on the cylinder column). 


RXSTEP lenses are readily available and can be a cost-effective solution for those who do not require precise correction.  They can only be used with double window masks.


Glue-In Lenses

The glue-in lens technique is the most expensive option used when individuals want to keep their masks. With this technique, prescription lenses are permanently glued inside the mask onto the existing lenses. This provides a seamless integration of your prescription into the mask. 


However, it’s important to note that they cannot be removed or replaced once the lenses are glued. Divers typically choose the glue-in lens technique with a preferred mask they want to continue using while enjoying clear vision underwater.


To explore the best option for your vision needs, check out our prescription dive masks and enhance your underwater experience with perfect clarity.


Choosing the Right Fit


three people with scuba mask in water

Getting the proper fit is one of the most important factors when choosing a snorkel mask. A mask that does not fit correctly will not seal properly to your face and allow water to leak in, defeating its purpose.


Small Fit

If you have a narrow or small face, look for masks labeled as small or low volume. Small masks will have a narrower lens shape and strap design to fit snugly on smaller faces. A small mask that is too tight can cause discomfort, so try several small sizes.


Medium Fit

Those with average to slightly wider face shapes will often find masks labeled as medium provide the best fit. Test the seal by gently exhaling underwater - a proper seal will allow you to exhale bubbles with little leakage. The medium size is designed for most face shapes.


Large Fit

A large mask is necessary if you have a wider or larger face, or a larger nose. Masks come in different sizes to fit various face shapes and sizes. Look for a lens and strap design that comfortably fits your face without being loose. An ill-fitting mask will not seal properly, regardless of the strap adjustment.


Proper fitting is essential for a comfortable and leak-proof snorkeling experience. A snug but comfortable fit is ideal for clear underwater views without water seeping in. 


For more options, especially for younger snorkelers, check out our Kids Swimming Goggles And Dive Masks.


Choosing the Right Lens Type


a scuba mask lying on the beach

When choosing a mask for snorkeling or scuba diving, the type of lens used is an important consideration, especially if you need prescription correction.


Single Vision Lenses:  

If you only need vision correction for distance, or if you normally wear multifocal but are just snorkeling, you can do a single vision mask. Single vision masks will correct just your distance vision where most of the underwater life will be.  You will typically not need to read underwater, so those wanting to minimize costs often go the single-vision route. 



If you are SCUBA diving and normally wear bifocals or progressive lenses, you will need to opt for a bifocal mask.  When SCUBA diving, you need to read the gauges of your equipment. Thus, you will need the reading correction underwater.  Bifocals will allow you to see distance but also read your gauges.  


If you don’t need any correction for distance and just need to read gauges, you can opt for what is called a “gauge reader”.   This will have no correction in the upper distance part of the mask, but have a reading segment in the bottom part of the mask for you to read your gauges properly underwater. 


Multifocal/Progressive Lenses:

Some people want a progressive lens that gives them all distances of vision as their everyday eyeglasses do.  In this case, progressive lenses are available just like they are for regular eyeglasses. However, they are only an option for the insert type of mounting inside the mask. 


Choosing the Right Lens Tint


a scuba mask lying near water

Depending on your swimming environment, lens tint can significantly impact your visibility and overall diving experience. Consider your diving environment to understand which lens tint would be perfect for you.


Clear Lenses

Clear lenses, are designed to let you see as you would with the naked eye underwater, even in low-light conditions. They allow maximum light to enter the mask, providing excellent visibility. 



  • Suitable for all locations and depths.
  • Give you true color perception allowing you to see colors as they appear naturally in nature.  



  • Not optimized for specific conditions.
  • Lack of color correction capabilities.
  • It may not be ideal for areas with intense sunlight or where color visibility is crucial. 


Red Tint

Red-tinted lenses are specifically designed for color correction in deeper waters. They compensate for the lack of red light absorbed as you descend. 



  • Enhance visibility in deeper waters by providing a red hue to make objects appear sharper.
  • Ideal for tropical waters with clear turquoise water.
  • Great for observing marine life and vibrant coral reefs.



  • Limited effectiveness in shallower waters or areas with abundant red light.
  • Fixed lens color, which may not be ideal for diverse diving locations.


Yellow/Amber Tint

Yellow or amber-tinted lenses are beneficial in low-light or low-visibility environments, such as lakes, rivers, or locations with poor lighting conditions. 



  • Enhance visibility in areas with little lighting or low visibility.
  • Improve contrast and clarity, making it easier to spot objects underwater.
  • Ideal for divers and snorkelers in murky or dark environments or caves.



  • Limited effectiveness in well-lit or clear waters.
  • Not suitable for areas of bright light as yellow will make things even brighter  


Magenta Tint

Magenta-tinted lenses are designed to enhance the observation of specific colors like red, orange, yellow, and green by filtering out blue tones. They are especially useful for exploring brightly colored coral reefs. 



  • Enhance color visibility and vibrancy of underwater scenery.
  • Ideal for observing brightly colored marine life and coral reefs.
  • Improve contrast and make colors appear more vibrant.



  • Limited effectiveness in areas where color correction is optional.
  • Not suitable for general use or locations with predominantly blue or green hues.


Remember to assess the lighting conditions and color visibility of the locations where you will be swimming to make an informed decision.


Lens Treatment 


a scuba diver underwater

In addition to choosing the right lens tint and prescription lenses, it’s important to consider lens treatments that can enhance your vision and protect your lenses. Here are some common lens treatments available for scuba and snorkeling masks.


UV Protection

UV radiation from the sun can harm your eyes, even underwater. Look for masks with lenses that offer UV protection. These masks help shield your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays, reducing the risk of eye damage and discomfort.


Anti-Fog Coating

One common issue divers and snorkelers face is fogging on their masks. Fogging can impair visibility and make it difficult to enjoy the underwater experience. Masks with an anti-fog coating have a special treatment applied to the inside of the lens that helps prevent fogging. This coating reduces condensation and keeps your lenses clear, allowing you to see clearly throughout your dive.


Anti-Reflective (A/R) Lens Treatment

Underwater environments can be challenging due to reflections and glare. An anti-reflective (A/R) lens treatment helps minimize reflections on the lens surface. This treatment allows more light to pass through the lens, improving clarity and reducing eye strain caused by glare. With an A/R lens treatment, you can enjoy a clearer and more comfortable underwater view.  They also help repel water making it easier to see above water with fewer water droplets blocking vision. 


Anti-Scratch Coating

Scuba diving and snorkeling often involve contact with sand, rocks, and other abrasive surfaces. These can scratch your lens, compromising your vision. Masks with an anti-scratch coating have a protective layer that makes the lens more resistant to scratches. This coating helps maintain the quality of your lenses and ensures long-lasting durability.


High-quality masks from reputable brands often include lens treatments as standard features, ensuring optimal performance and durability.


Proper maintenance and care are also essential to preserve lens treatments. Follow manufacturer instructions for cleaning and storage to maintain the clarity and longevity of your scuba diving and snorkeling mask.


Choosing Scuba masks by Affordability


a scuba mask lying near on sand

One of the most important factors when choosing scuba masks is your budget. Scuba gear can be expensive, so it’s important to find something that fits your needs and price range.


The good news is that there are options for every budget. Sporteyes offers budget-friendly scuba masks for under $40. These are more affordable options as compared to other dive masks. They will still allow you to enjoy snorkeling, though you may have to compromise on additional features.


For basic snorkeling use in calm waters during the daytime, a pair of masks under $40 could work well to start. They will provide good vision underwater and a comfortable seal.


If you’re an avid diver or want extra features like anti-fog coating or prescription lenses, you may need to spend more. Some high-end scuba goggle models with added perks cost around $220 on the site.


 Browse our site to find quality masks lasting years of underwater adventures. Diving is much more fun when you have a clear vision!


Choosing Scuba Masks by Brand 


scuba mask company logos

When selecting scuba masks, Many divers also consider the brand of scuba masks when selecting them. Different brands may offer varying features and quality. At Sporteyes, we offer a curated selection of top scuba mask brands renowned for their innovative designs and durability. Among these brands are Aquaviz, Hilco, SeaVision.


Our selection of brands assures that you'll find the ideal pair of scuba masks to improve your enjoyment of diving activities, regardless of your preferences for cutting-edge lens technology, exceptional comfort, or fashionable styles.


The Perfect Scuba Masks await at Sporteyes

Just keep in mind the features you’d like to enjoy when you go scuba diving. From the perfect fit to a variety of lens tint options, Sporteyes has got you covered. So, fill up your wish lists and choose a scuba mask perfect for you. Make sure that you choose the right fit and prescription options.


In case you need help while selecting a dive mask, feel free to refer to this guide or contact our team at Sporteyes. Your vision and comfort are our priority.

20 May 2024

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