Monday, 11 April 2016

Prescription Mark Review

Optical dive Mask Review

You Know those dive computers, the ones with bright screens and big digits that you can read on your buddys wrist from 5 metres away. Is that what I need? No I don’t need new computers as my current Suunto models do me fine. (What I need  is a buddy diver who can carry my computer at arm’s length so that I can read it!) LOL However, the screens on my computers are dark and the digits are small and hard to read at the best of times. Chuck in deep dark water, mixed gas and deteriorating close up eyesight and they are impossible to read whether I hold them at arm’s length or right before my eyes. This was something I had to address as it could lead to a potentially dangerous situation. I could purchase a new generation dive computer and that would set me back between £500-£700. This was wrong for me on 2 fronts, once I thought it through. Firstly, the cost was too much especially when I currently have fully functioning dive computers. Secondly a new dive computer would not solve the cause of the problem which is my failing close up vision.
My findings may help all divers in the future as failing close up eyesight is directly related to age and the vast majority of divers will find themselves in the same situation as me at some point.
I thought about a few solutions:- Stick on magnifying lenses designed for dive masks. On researching this and speaking to buddies I found a familiar storey in that these stick on lenses didn’t take long to unstick and then you were back to square 1 with no close up vision. Then I looked at off the shelf masks with separate panels for close up lens elements. These looked good but your face would have to fit that mask and the model that I looked only had 1 prescription which, once again may be good if it suits you. A third option would be to purchase a new mask with new insert lenses. This may have been an option when only my distance vision was requiring a prescription to sharpen it up but now that would make my close up vision even worse.
Doing nothing was not an option if I was going to enjoy my diving safely. I contacted a company called DiveSight who specialise in producing prescription mask’s to the customers prescription. DiveSight produce their own lenses and have the ability to offer a vast choice of lenses. I had recently had my eyes tested and I sent my prescription and some optical measurements down along with an order for a Cressi Big Eyes Mask. This is the mask I usually wear and I decided to stick with it as I know it fits me well. Turnaround time was around 2 weeks in which DiveSight ground the lenses and bonded them together before inserting them in a brand new mask. Geoff and Peter are directors of the company and they did contact me a few times relating to my order. Geoff firstly with news that the model of mask I wanted was no longer made in the colour I wanted. This was no problem to me. As long as it had a black silicone skirt, I was happy. I find this type of skirt helps a lot with photography. Peter who is the company’s sports-qualified optometrist called me up to discuss my prescription. My prescription for close up work had been made up for looking at pc screens a metre or so away from me. My arms are a lot shorter than that. Peter confirmed this and asked me a few other questions before advising me what he thought should be done to fine tune my prescription for use when diving. It all made sense to me and I decided to go with his advice.  For me their communication was brilliant and 2 weeks later I received my new prescription mask well packaged in the post.
I could clearly see the uppermost part of the lens was plain tempered glass for distance vision and the area below was where the lens for my close up vision was bonded onto the main lens. I could not wait to get in the water and try it out.
December and January were not good months for diving in the UK and I ended up in a quarry to test it out. Initially it felt really strange. The lower portion of the mask was not used at all until I looked at my dive computer or the small controls on my camera. These were all now completely legible and I could read my computer easily. By the end of my dive I was starting to get used to the lenses and was moving my head and eyes accordingly. The dive itself was completely dull apart from 1 swimpast by a large pike. It was at that point I realised how much I had been missing in my diving and hence my photography. How many octopus and anglerfish have i missed, never mind the tiny shrimp and nudibranchs. I feel that once I get used to the mask my diving will be re energised.
As DiveSight , grind and polish the lenses to customer requirements themselves Another good thing about the mask is that you don’t have new mask syndrome where the mask fogs up for the first few dives. I bought a proprietary mask anti fog liquid to take care of this and this keeps the lenses Chrystal clear in the warm pool or in the cold sea.
Now after a few dives under my belt with the new optical mask-I can confirm that I am getting used to the lenses and enjoying the benefits of being able to see clearly under the water. I do wish that I could have the whole lens for perfect distance viewing but I have to be realistic and acknowledge that I need help with the close up work. I think a mask like mine is the best and most economical way of going about this.
Whole package cost was just over £200
Top Product and great customer service.

Mike Clark

Contact us
DiveSight is the diving division of

sight4sport limited,
Fiveways House,
Westwells Road,
Wiltshire SN13  9RG
Telephone 01225 811122