Scuba Diving Masks FAQ

1. Why do I need a dive mask?

Dive masks allow you to see clearly underwater and protect your eyes whilst you are diving.  They are essential items of kit and are available for under $20.  Even if you rent your air tanks, regulators and wetsuit you should invest in your own dive mask.  This is because everyone’s face is slightly different and you will want to make sure you get a mask that is comfortable and fits well.

2.  What types of dive mask are there?

There are a good range of different dive masks available.  These suit different levels of skill and diving conditions.  The basic level masks available will be traditional single pane designs.  You can also get special gauge reader masks, kids masks, two/three window masks and low profile masks designed for high performance conditions such as freediving competitions. 

3.  Which dive masks can provide the best overall visibility?

You will need good visibility in the water when you are diving so that you can see the other divers, your instruments and also the wonderful underwater landscape around you.  If you are diving in clear waters then you will want to see as much as possible.  Masks with two or three panes provide a much greater range of vision than a single pane design.  You can also get special panoramic vision masks which have clear sections in the sides of the masks.  This creates much better peripheral vision when you are diving underwater

4.  Are there any dive mask options for those with poor vision?

You cannot wear prescription glasses under goggles or masks.  However you may not need to wear corrective lenses in some cases when you are diving.  If you can still read all of your instruments and see clearly enough to enjoy your underwater dive then you may be able to get away with not wearing your glasses.  Try diving in shallow waters first just to test whether you can get on without your glasses safely and effectively.  If you do need to wear corrective lenses when you dive you will have a number of options when it comes to dive masks:

  • Purge Valves – if you choose a mask with a purge valve then you will be able to eliminate water without having to remove your mask.  This means you will be able to wear contact lenses when you are diving, without having to worry about losing one if you need to empty out your mask.
  • Optical lenses – many manufacturers provide optical lenses for masks.  These are available in standard prescriptions or you can have them custom made for you.  These masks can cost a bit more but they can be invaluable to divers who do have poor vision.

5.  Are there any masks available for narrow faces?

If you have a narrow or small face then you may not be able to wear standard masks.  They will simply be too big to provide a proper watertight seal against your face.  You can buy a number of narrow face designs though which should provide a much better fit.  These are typically designed for women and young adults.

6.  Are cheap dive masks any good?

You do need to choose a good quality brand of mask when you are diving.  It is essential you get a mask that is comfortable and will fit your face well. This prevents you from having to constantly clear your mask from water seeping in.  You should avoid the very cheapest masks if you are going to be diving regularly and choose one of the top brands.  This should provide you with an affordable yet practical mask for your diving experiences.

7.  What are scuba masks made from?

Top quality scuba masks skirts are made from silicone.  This is a highly flexible material which will provide a close fit around your face preventing too much water from leaking in.  The cheaper masks tend to be made from rubber. This can sometimes be inflexible and you may find that it does not fit over your face very well. Also many people have allergies to the chemicals used in rubber so silicone can be a less irritating option.

8.  Can I borrow someone else's mask for diving?

The pliable skirting on a diving mask is designed to mould to the shape of a divers face.  Once you have worn a mask it should hold the shape of your face.  This means that if you try and wear another person’s mask then it will most likely leak and you could also distort the memory fit.  This is why you should not borrow anyone else’s dive mask and avoid using rental masks.  You should buy your own mask even if you are a beginner (they are not very expensive) and take it with you on every dive.

9.  How do you choose the right dive mask?

When you buy a new dive mask you do need to check the fit carefully.  You can do this by gently pressing the mask against your face.  When you breathe through your nose this should create a tight vacuum that doesn’t squeeze your face too much.  This will show that the mask fits. You should also check that you can see clearly through the mask. 

10 How can I stop my mask from leaking?

A small amount of water will leak into your mask no matter how well the fit.  This is perfectly normal and should not affect your dive very much.  However if a large amount of water is leaking in this could spoil a dive as you will be constantly purging the water or returning to the surface with irritated eyes.  The best way to stop your mask from leaking is to buy one that fits well in the first place. You can also clear masks underwater by breathing out through your nose whilst you release the lower skirt of the mask.  The pressure of the air should force the water to run out.  Make sure you hold on to the top of the mask whilst you are doing this as if the skirt pulls away from your face here the water will flood into your mask.