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How to Choose Prescription Swim Goggles


If you require corrective lenses to see clearly, you may also want to purchase goggles with prescription lenses for the pool. Luckily, there are several companies that manufacture prescription goggles in a variety of styles. This guide walks you how to choose the prescription goggles that are best for you.

The Lens

Prescription goggles come with ready-made spherical lenses of varying strengths known as diopters, or step diopters. This type of lens production is similar to the generic reading glasses found in pharmacies: The prescription will be a close match to your own, but may not be as precise as that in the glasses or contact lenses you use every day. For use in the water (an already-blurry environment), step diopter prescription glasses are perfectly adequate. They are also more widely available and affordable than custom-made prescription goggles from a doctor's office.

Negative diopter lenses are the most commonly available goggles, and are intended for those with nearsighted or myopic vision. Lenses range in diopters from -1.5 to -10.0 and come in increments of 0.5. Positive diopter lenses are for farsighted swimmers, and are less common.

Finding Your Diopter Strength

The first step to choosing prescription goggles is determining the diopter strength that most closely matches your current prescription. Follow the below steps, or ask your doctor to help you choose the best ones for you.

  1. Get your most current prescription numbers.
  2. Calculate the strength of the diopter you need using this formula:

             1/2 of the cylinder + sphere = diopter strength

    Sphere is the degree of weakness in diopters. This is always a negative number for nearsighted people, and a positive number for farsighted. Cylinder is the degree of astigmatism in your eye. Add half of this number to the sphere to determine diopter strength.

  3. To choose a diopter lens, simply find the one that has a prescription closest to your own. A general rule of thumb when choosing a diopter lens is to round down — rather than up — to the prescription that most closely matches your own. This places less strain on your eyes.

For example, if your prescription is a sphere of -5.0 and a cylinder of +2.0, then (1/2 x +2.0) + -5.0 = -4.0 step diopter lens. Or if your prescription is a sphere: -2.0 and a cylinder: -1.0, then (1/2 x -1.0) + -2.0 = -2.0 (rounded up from -2.5) step diopter lens.

Choose the Goggle Model

Prescription goggles have come a long way in recent years. Prescription goggle users can now choose from lenses and goggle frames that are just as sleek and hydrodynamic as non-prescription goggles.

  • There are both recreational and racing styles of prescription goggles. Serious swimmers and lap swimmers will want to buy a racing style and should look for low profile frames, or those with "racing" in the model name.
  • Swimmers who rarely do lap swimming and just want an alternative to going without glasses in the water — such as masks or goggles with larger lenses — should look at recreational models. These have more generously padded frames and offer wider peripheral vision.
  • Some brands (such as Aqua Sphere™) offer separate prescription lenses that can be inserted into specific goggle models. Make doubly sure that the lenses you order are compatible with your goggle frames. This may be a good option for swimmers whose eyes have significantly different prescriptions.
  • There are a few brands (such as Sporti™) that design bifocal goggles, with just the lower half of the lens set to a certain prescription.
  • One of the few brands that offer positive diopter lenses is Hilco™, with their Z Leader goggle model.

Prescription goggles may be a bit more expensive than non-prescription goggles, but they are still very affordable (and getting more so every year). If you are having trouble deciding which goggles to buy, consider asking your optometrist. Once you have your goggles, it may take a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to new lens, but after a short adjustment period, you should be able to use them adequately in the pool.

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Jacky
2 days ago.
Could you please help me to choose the right prescription goggle?

OD: -3.75, -2.25 x 019
OS: -4.25, -1.25 x 169

Thank you!
Swimoutlet.com
2 days ago.
Hi Jacky,

sure! Your diopter strength is OD: -4.8 OS: -4.8. So you would want to go with a pair that is -4.5. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Adamadia
6 days ago.
My turn :)
OD -4.00 cylinder 5 ph
OS -3.75 cylinder 5ph

Help?! :)
Swimoutlet.com
4 days ago.
Hi Adamadia,

Your diopter strength would be OD: -1.5 OS: -1.2. Let us know if you have any questions. Have a great day!
anita
1 week ago.
my sphere is -1.75 and cylinder -0.25(right eye)
and for the left -1.50 and -0.25 cylinder.
Swimoutlet.com
4 days ago.
Hi Anita,

Your diopter strength is R: -1.8 L: -1.6. A -1.5 pair would work perfectly for you. We have one in the:

Sporti Antifog S2 Optical Goggle
http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/sporti-antifog-s2-optical-goggle-22598/?color=29563

I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Allen
2 weeks ago.
My son's prescription is as follows, what goggles should I get

Sphere OS -2.50
Cyl OS -1.25

Sphere OD -3.50
Cyl OD - 0.25
Laura
2 weeks ago.
I seem to be lost in trying to figure out how to calculate my diopter.
My right eye is -375 sphere, -050 cylinder, 75 axis with an add 150
left eye is -500 sphere, -050 cylinder, 105 axis also with and add 150.

Please help. My optometrist adjusted my contacts to help me see both distance and up close for better reading. I used to be -4.25R/-4.75L before she started tweaking things. I just really want to get back into the water and I can't see without glasses and my contacts dry out too fast. I have a 7 year old I'm trying to teach to swim

Thanks so much
sundar
2 weeks ago.
Hello,
Please help. My son's prescription says:
Single vision (lens design)
OD: -5.00
OS: -4.50
What power will the swim goggles be?
Thanks.
Sundar
Martin
2 weeks ago.
Hi, I would like to buy the goggle for my daughter, her recent prescription is as below:
O.D. Sphere -5.75 / Cylinder: -1.25 / AXE 157
O.G. Sphere: -6.25 / Cylinder: -1.00 / AXE:160
Can you please let me know what would i do? what if i buy 2 pairs?

Thanks.
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Martin,

Her diopter strength would be OD: -6.3 OS: -6.7. You can get either one pair at -6.0 or 2 pairs (one at -6.0 and one at -6.5). I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Laura
2 weeks ago.
Hello--

I have my spouse's prescription from her optometrist, but the numbers here make no sense to me based on the formulae you're listing. Can you help? This is what is written on the script:

-700 + .75 x 130
+175 Add
-600 + .75 x 030

(There is a vertical line between the two equations and the +175 Add so I am assuming that this refers to both the equations.)

Does this make any sense or is there something more I need to get/ask my spouse to get from the doctor?
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Laura,

If I read your prescription correctly then your diopter strength would be -6.6 and -5.6. But please do confirm with your optometrist as well since the sphere and cylinder numbers are not clearly marked. They should also be able to calculate the diopter strength for you. If you have any other questions please feel free to let us know. Have a wonderful day!
Kumar
2 weeks ago.
Hi,

I am trying to buy Swim goggles for my daughter. I did calculations which are

Her one eye Sphere -2.75 Cyl -.50 Axis 175
Second eye -4.25 Cyl -0.25, Axis 012

As per my calculations it comes to -3 and -4.37 ( Rounding it to -4)

Am I right ?

I may buy two goggles and switch the eye pieces

Thanks
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Kumar,

Your calculations are absolutely correct! You would want to go with either one pair of goggles at -3 or get 2 pairs (one in -3 and one in -4) and interchange the eye pieces. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Have a great day!
Chris
2 weeks ago.
Here is my prescription what should I order for the googles?

Sph Cyl Axis
R -5.25 -2.00 075
L -4.00 -2.50 092

Thanks ... Chris
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Chris,

Your diopter strength is R: -6.25 L: -5.25. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Cat
2 weeks ago.
Need help calculating my diopter:

Sphere OD: -1.25
Sphere OS: - 1.0

no cylinder

pd dist OD: 28.5
pd dist OS: 29.5

Thanks for your help!!
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Cat,

Since you do not have a cylinder value, I would recommend that you contact your optometrist. They should easily be able to calculate your diopter strength over the phone. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
Emma
2 weeks ago.
My prescription is

OD - Sphere (- 5.25) Cyl ( - 2.25) Axis (005)
OS-Sphere ( - 5.75) Cyl ( - 1.75) Axix 166

what is the my prescription size swim googles measurement.
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Emma,

Your diopter strength would be OD: -6.3 OS: -6.6. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Milo
2 weeks ago.
Hi,

Could you please help me calculate my diopter?

O.D.: -2.75 spherical, "sphere" cylindrical, (blank) axis
O.S.: -4.25 spherical, +1.50 cylindrical, 103 axis

Thanks!
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Milo,

Since you do not have a cylinder value for your OD I would suggest that you contact your optometrist to get the correct diopter strength. For OS your diopter strength would be -3.5. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
Pam
2 weeks ago.
Hi-I ordered the wrong prescription goggles and would really appreciate help. They don't seem to conform to your formula and I am lost trying to figure it out.
Thanks!
Right Eye/OD - Sphere +0.75, Cylinder PL, Axis O, ADD +2.50, PD 31
Left Eye/OS - Sphere +0.75, Cylinder PL, Axis O, ADD +2.50, PD 31
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Pam,

Since your Cylinder values are not clear, I would recommend that you contact your optometrist to get the cylinder value. They should also be able to calculate your diopter strength as well. If you have any other questions, please feel free to let us know. Have a wonderful day!
Sally
3 weeks ago.
Hi
My son, 11, wears contact lenses, prescription R -2.75 L -2.50
I have asked about cylinder / axis measurements but the optician says he doesn't have those measurements.
Would you recommend I order goggles in the same strength or weaker/stronger?

Many thanks
Swimoutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi Sally,

Is the -2.75 and -2.5 his diopter strength? If it is then you would want to go with a pair in -2.5. You do not want to get anything stronger than his prescription. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
JD
3 weeks ago.
Please help, I am confused by the OD and OS numbers and how to find my daughter correct diopter
her OD is Sphere -1.25 Cylinder -1.25
her OS is Sphere -4.75 Cylinder -1.25
Swimoutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi JD,

Her diopter strength would be OD: -1.8 OS: -5.3. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Jake
5 weeks ago.
What strength would I need?
OD sphere -300 cylinder-025 axis 060
OS sphere -275 cylinder -050 axis 105
Mary
1 month ago.
Hi. I was wondering if you would be able to help me with some goggles for my son. These are his prescription numbers. OD Sphere -4.25 cyl -1.00 axis 080
OS Sphere -4.00 cyl -1.00 axis 110

Thanks for your help!

Mary
Mary
1 month ago.
My son's prescription is
R -2.75-.50x85
L -3.50-.50x125

Would "over the counter" googles work for him? Or do I have to have something specially made?
Thank you !
SwimOutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Mary,

His diopter strength is R: -3 L: -3.75. The prescription goggles we have are premade and we do not customize them. He should be good with either one pair in -3.0 or you can get 2 pairs (one in -3.0 and one in -3.5) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Nisha
1 month ago.
So my husband has a sphere rx already but what power should I go with
OD -2.25 sphere
OS -3.00 sphere
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Nisha,

The calculation calls for the sphere and cylinder values. I would recommend contacting his optometrist to get that info. They should be able to calculate his diopter strength as well. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
michelle
1 month ago.
I am totally confused by my prescription and would really appreciate your assistance.
both eyes are the same
SPH -3.00 CYL -.50 AXIS 180
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Michelle,

We would be happy to assist you! Your diopter strength is -3.25. So you should be good with a -3.0 pair of prescription goggles. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
paul
1 month ago.
Please inform me diopter calculation for this prescription of my son
R sphere -4.500, CYL -1.000, AXIS 2
L sphere -3.250, CYL -1.000, AXIS 170

Thank you.
MCSC Mom
1 month ago.
Ok. My turn, here's the prescription. Am I right to conclude, -3 for right eye, -2.5 for left?

rt eye -3.25, positive .025 x 25
lt eye - 2.75 positive .50 x .090
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi MCSC Mom,

You are absolutely correct with your calculation! Let us know if you have any questions. Have a great day!
Melanie
1 month ago.
Could you help me decide what type of lens to order for my daughter for prescription goggles. Her scrip is as follows:
OD sphere -175, cylinder -50 axis 14
OS sphere -175 cylinder -25 axis 175

Thank you for your help
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Melanie,

Sure! We would be happy to help you out! Her diopter strength is OD -2 and OS: -1.8. It looks like a -1.5 would work out for her. We do that prescription in the Sporti Antifog S2 Optical Goggle. The link is below. Feel free to contact us again if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/sporti-antifog-s2-optical-goggle-22598/?color=208
Angela Johnson
1 month ago.
Please help me, I am horrible at math. My daughter"s RX is: OD sphere -1.00 cylinder -.25 and OS -.50 sphere -.50 cylinder. What is her diopler strength and what should be buy? She is 11 and has joined a racing team. Thank You! Angela J.
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Angela,

No worries! We would be happy to assist you with the math! Her diopter strength is OD: -1.1 OS: -0.75. Since her diopter strength is so low, she would probably be ok with just regular goggles. The lowest prescription goggles we carry start at -1.5 which is stronger than what she would need. And we do not recommend that she get something stronger than her prescription because that can hurt her eyes. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
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