Divers who wear contact lenses are sometimes put off diving as they are concerned about the effect the mask removal skills may have on their lenses and eyes. This month we ask our medical experts at the Sharm Hyperbaric Medical Centre, for information on diving when visually impaired.
Firstly, if you are not able to see much without glasses or lenses it is i mportant to have some form of correction when diving. This will make sure that you see the whale shark that swims past and also prevent you from swimming into the fragile reef.
Diving with contact lenses is something many divers do, when you meet your instructor inform them that you are a lens wearer and will be closing your eyes during the mask skills. Most instructors deal with this by tapping your shoulder when the mask is successfully cleared of water.
When choosing which lenses to wear the softer lenses are recommended as the hard lenses are not gas permeable, making off gassing of Nitrogen harder, this means that there can be a theoretical DCS risk when wearing hard lenses (we clarified this and yes; we actually off-gas through the eyes and tear ducts). It is also far cheaper to replace a soft than a hard lens, should one accidentally be lost.
Risk of infection from bacteria in the water getting under the lens is almost negligible, however should you suffer from any redness or itching in the days following a dive, it is always advisable to visit an eye specialist for a check-up.
Some divers may find their eyes rather dry after a dive and it is perfectly acceptable to use moisturizing eye drops after a dive for comfort.
For keen divers it may be a good idea to invest in a specially made prescription mask…the downside of this is that a carelessly placed tank may leave you with a broken mask and no means to see underwater. Either a second prescription mask or spare lenses can avoid theses situations.
Remember everything is magnified by about a third when underwater so if your concern is seeing the face of your dive computer, this may be solved naturally.
Dr. Adel Taher & Dr. Ahmed Sakr: your diving docs
If you have any medical queries please let us know at email@example.com. The most interesting one will be discussed in our next issue.
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