My son needs prescription swim goggles

Last year, I discovered our son needed glasses. As he sat in my exam chair, struggling to read the letter chart, I was tempted to say what some well-meaning parents usually say, “Are you sure you’re reading the right line?” It’s taken me a year, but I’m now accustomed to seeing him in glasses, which he wears full-time.  The lenses are made of a poIycarbonate material which is required for children under age 18, is impact-resistant, scratch-resistant and provides ultraviolet (UV) protection. I appreciate the fact that he has UV protection for his eyes all the time now – even on cloudy days.

Photo Courtesy of Whateverthing on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Whateverthing

One of the headaches with raising children is the quantity of items you have to purchase for all their activities. Now, I need to consider all sorts of eyewear for our son. It’s a good thing I’m an optometrist because I happen to know a thing or two about eyewear.

My quest for prescription swim goggles

Everybody should wear swim goggles in the water to protect the eyes from UV rays and from irritants in the water. And those that wear glasses full-time will do best with prescription goggles. Our son doesn’t feel confident in the water once he removes his glasses due to blurry vision and tinted lenses make it worse. I often advise patients to check with the local sporting goods store for prescription swim goggles. I found our son’s prescription at the local store for about $22, although the selection was limited and the highest power was -3.00. If you are farsighted with a prescription that starts with a ‘+’, they will most likely not carry the power.

I decided to call our optical supplier at my office about the swim goggles they offer. The price was twice as much as the store-bought pair but the prescription can go up higher to a -8.00. If you have a prescription that requires more customization, such as astigmatism or a higher power, expect to pay much more for a custom made pair. I wasn’t able to compare the optics of the goggles to the store bought pair, but I think it may be negligible considering its limited purpose for a 10-year-old boy. Besides, they’ll probably be lost by next week anyway.

Photo courtesy of Evonne on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Evonne on Flickr

There are also plenty of online suppliers of prescription swim goggles. For more advanced swimmers who require certain forms of coverage or speed, there are more choices of customization available. Another factor to consider is when both eyes don’t have the same prescription. You can purchase two ready-made pairs and use the corresponding power for each eye from each goggle; just make sure the nose bridge detaches.

For those whose profession or hobbies require prescription swim goggles, I would recommend trying a custom made pair for better optics. Check with your optometrist for the power that you would need. Be sure to specify the distance at which you would like to see. For example, snorkeling may require a prescription for intermediate distances. Some optometry offices carry prescription swim goggles or can order them for you. Otherwise, there are many online companies that can customize the prescription and goggle design for your specific needs.

Now that I’ve purchased our son’s swim goggles, next on my list are sports goggles. Especially, now that he has scratches on his face from a basketball game gone awry on Father’s Day.

~ Cindy P. Wang, OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association

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