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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 through 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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Mary
5 days ago.
My daughter's prescription only has a number in the sphere column, -1.5 for the right eye and -2.5 for the left. Nothing is indicated in the CYL and AXIS columns. What strength swim goggle should I purchase?
Rachael
1 week ago.
Hi - just want to be sure I am calculated the diopter correctly:

Right: Sphere +3.50; Cyl +1.25; Axis 105
Left: Sphere +3.50; Cyl +0.50; Axis 085

I assume the diopter for the right eye is ~+4.13 and the left eye is +3.75 ...so was going to order a +4.0 pair of goggles. Is this correct? TIA
SwimOutlet.com
6 days ago.
Hi Rachael,
Your calculations are absolutely correct! I would recommend that you either go with one pair at +3.5 or 2 pairs (one in +3.5 and one in +4) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. You do not want to get something that is higher than your prescription. Feel free to contact us again with any further questions. Have a wonderful day!
Heather
1 week ago.
My 6 year old son has a diopter strength of -12 in each eye. I see that -10 is the maximum... and custom prescriptions look to be about $160. Given that he is 6 and prone to losing things, I don't want to spend that kind of money. But he is struggling with swim lessons because he can't see anything.

Would a -10 goggle "get him through"? thanks!
SwimOutlet.com
6 days ago.
Hi Heather,
It's close enough to where it may work for him. As long as you are not going over his prescription, it will be fine. he won't have perfect vision but it would be better than nonprescription goggles. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Carol
1 week ago.
My prescription just says -3.0 in both actually a -2.5 in one think he rounded up. Bought a pair of -3.0 tow yesrs ago cor open water was dizzy and could,not see wnat do you reccomend
SwimOutlet.com
6 days ago.
Hi Carol,
If your diopter strength is -2.5 then I would recommend going with that instead of rounding up to -3. You do not want to go with anything stronger than your prescription. I hope this information helps. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
TJ
2 weeks ago.
Just to be sure of correct diopter strength before I order goggles for lap swimming.My prescription is. OD= -5.75 cylinder= -0.50 axis 075
OS= -7.50 cylinder= -0.50 axis 105
SwimOutlet.com
6 days ago.
Hi TJ,
Your diopter strength is OD: -6 OS: -7.75. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Huy
2 weeks ago.
Hi, my prescription information is :
Right : -2.5 sphere , +0.25 Cylinder, 120 Axis
Left : -2.25 sphere, + 0.25 cylinder, 042 axis
what is the right diopter for my swimming goggles ? Can I have different diopter levels for different sides of my goggles ?
swimoutlet.com
6 days ago.
Hi Huy,
Your diopter strength would be Right: -2.3 Left: -2.1. Since your diopter strengths are fairly close, you would just need one pair at -2. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
melissa
2 weeks ago.
help calculating my diopter strength.
OD - SPH Right -3.25 CYL 0.0 Axis 0.0
OS - SPH Left -3.25 CYL-0.75 Axis 20.0
PD61.0
SwimOutlet.com
6 days ago.
Hi Melissa,
Your diopter strength would be OD: -3.25 OS: -3.6. You can either go with one pair of goggles at -3.0 or 2 pairs (-3.0 and -3.5) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
Matt
2 weeks ago.
On my contact lens case it says PWR -5.25 for my left eye and PWR -4.50 for my right eye. Will I be ok if I order prescription goggles with these numbers?
SwimOutlet.com
6 days ago.
Hi Matt,
I would recommend that you contact your optometrist if you do not know your sphere and cylinder values. Those are the values that are needed to calculate the diopter strength. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
Ed P.
2 weeks ago.
I too need help in figuring out which goggle lenses to order. My prescription:

DV OD spherical -5.75 cylindical +1.25 axis 095
OS spherical -6.00 cylindical +1.75 axis 080

NV +2.50
SwimOutlet.com
6 days ago.
Hi Ed,
Your diopter strength would be -5.1 for both OD and OS. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Jen
2 weeks ago.
I just need help to decide what type of prescription glasses to get my 10 yr old daughter . Her prescription is
Sphere. R + 4.5
Sphere. L. + 4.75
Cyl. R +1.25
Cyl. L. + 1.25
Axis. R. 086
Axis. L. 091
Thank you so much!
SwimOutlet.com
1 week ago.
Hi Jen,
Her diopter strength would be R +5.1 L: +5.3. It looks like you would need a +5.0 pair for her. Below is a link to our positive pair of prescription goggles. If you have any questions please feel free to let us know. Have a wonderful day!
http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/sporti-antifog-positive-optical-goggle-29800/?color=28904
vad
2 weeks ago.
My prescription is below

OD: Sphere = -7.25, Cyl = -0.75, Axis = 132
OS: Sphere = -5.25, Cyl = -0.75, Axis = 033

Please tell me what the diopter for each eye? Also Iam looking for Adult goggles. Please direct me to the link.
SwimOutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Vad,
Your diopter strength would be OD: -7.6 OS: -5.6. You can view our prescription goggles in the link below. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
http://www.swimoutlet.com/prescription-swim-goggles-c9623/
Erin
2 weeks ago.
Hi, I'm about to order some swim goggles for my son and came across this article. I want to make sure I get them right, his prescription is:
Right eye: SPH +2.50 CYL +2.25 AXIS 100
Left eye - SPH +2.50 CYL +3.25 AXIS 77

Thank you for this article!
SwimOutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Erin,
His diopter strength would be Right: +3.6 Left: +4.1. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
kitty
2 weeks ago.
What is the correct diopter strength, goggle model and also goggle size for my son. the My son is 12 years old, the purpose is for recreation swimming. Below is his prescription.

O.D. -1.75 , cylinder -3.25 , Axis 005
O.S. -3:00, cylinder 2.50, Axis 170.

Thank you.
SwimOutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Kitty,
His diopter strength would be OD: -3.37 OS: -1.75. You can either go with one pair at -1.5 or 2 pairs (one in -1.5 and one in -3) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
maya
2 weeks ago.
OD sph -3.25, cyl -0.25
OS sph -3.00, cyl 0.00

OD = (1/2x-0.25) + -3.25 = -3
OS = (1/2x-0.00) + -3.00 = -3

Is my calculation correct?
SwimOutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Maya,
Your calculation is absolutely correct. If you have any questions or need help please feel free to contact us again. Have a great day!
Wael Masri
3 weeks ago.
Hi. Thanks so much for your helpful replies here.
My prescription says:
OD: -2.25 SPH and -0.25 CYL (right should be -2.375)
OS: -2.75 SPH and -0.75 CYL (left should be -3.125)

So should I just get a pair that is -2.0 or should I round up to -2.50 ??
I'm an occasional recreational swimmer, both outdoor and indoors, so it need not be perfect. I suppose I could start with a -2.0 pair and later, if I find it be too weak, then order a stronger pair of -3.0 to create a custom pair for the right and left. What do you recommend?
SwimOutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Wael,
We do not recommend that you get a stronger pair than your prescription as that can hurt your eyes. It's like trying on someone else's glasses and getting a blurry vision because the prescription is too strong. You can go with -2 if going with one pair or -2 and -3 and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Collins Fav
3 weeks ago.
Hello..goggles are for my 4 yr old grandson..Do you recommend tinted goggles?.,His prescription is

D.V. O.D Sphere +4.00 Cylinder -1.00 axis 21
O.S. ". +4.00 ". -0.50 axis 155. Then underneath
ADD. O.D. Sphere +2.75
O.S. Sphere +2.75. Thank you for your help
SwimOutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Collins,
His diopter would be OD: +3.5 OS: +3.75. If he plans on swimming outdoors alot then tinted goggles would be for him. If he plans on swimming indoors then he would want to go with clear ones. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if theres anything else we can assist you with. Have a great day!
Mary
3 weeks ago.
I want to make sure I did the math correctly to determine which strength I should purchase. Current prescription shows......
OD Sphere +2.00 and Cylinder +1.00
OS Sphere +2.00 and Cylinder +2.75
My calculations show..... OD would be 2.5 and OS would be 3.38. Is this correct? My thought is to purchase two pair of goggles and swap lenses. For the OS, do you suggest 3.0 or 3.5?
Thank You!
SwimOutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Mary,
Your calculations are absolutely correct. OD: +2.5 OS: +3.38. For OS I would suggest going with +3 because you never want to go stronger than your prescription. I hope this is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Leanne Leon
3 weeks ago.
Hi, can you please help me choose which prescription goggles to order:
OD -5.25 +1.50 086
OS -4.50 +0.50 155
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Leanne,
Your diopter strength would be OD: -4.5 OS: -4.25. You can either get one pair at -4 or 2 pairs (one in -4 and one in -4.5) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Have a wonderful day!
Leanne
6 days ago.
Thank you! My RX just changed, here is my new numbers. Can you please let me know what the new goggles should be?
OD -6.25 +1.50 087
OS -5.75 +0.25 155
Josh
3 weeks ago.
Please let me know what strength I need. My prescription is:
OD -350 -150 x78
OS -425 -150 x 84

Thank you.
SwimOutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi Josh,
Your diopter strength is OD: -4.2 OS: -5. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Diwa
3 weeks ago.
My Prescription are as below:
Prescription Type Single Vision
(SPH) (CYL) Axis
OD-Right -3.00 +0.75 10
OS-Left -3.50 +0.25 5

PD 58

Can I have swim googles for the above prescription. And if you have, how much its gonna cost.

Thanks
SwimOutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi Diwa,
Your diopter strength would be Right: -2.6 Left: -3.3. You can either go with one pair at -2.5 or 2 pairs (one in -2.5 and one in -3) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. Below is a link to our prescription goggles. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
http://www.swimoutlet.com/prescription-swim-goggles-c9623/
Pam
3 weeks ago.
right eye: -325, -50, +165
left eye: -200, -50, +55
Could you please tell me what the diopter for each eye? Thanks
SwimOutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi Pam,
Your diopter strength would be Right: -3.5 Left: -2.25. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Kate
3 weeks ago.
Hi,

I just visited my optometrist today, and he said the conversions of my prescription would be -4 or -5. Looking at your formula I have no clue how he got that number and now I'm worried he was mistaken on the conversions. Please help!

OD -7.75 -1.25 x 175
OS -7.75 -2.00 x 004
SwimOutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi Kate,
I am not sure how you calculated your diopter to be -4 or -5. Going by the formula I calculated it to be OD: -8.3 OS: -8.75. You can ask your optometrist to see how he calculated it. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Carri
4 weeks ago.
My 4 year old daughter's prescription looks like this.

Right - Sphere: +6.5 Cylinder: it just says "Sphere"
Left - Sphere +7.5 Cylinder: it just says "Sphere"

Do you have goggles available for a little one with this prescription?

Thanks!
Swimoutlet.com
4 weeks ago.
Hi Carri,

If she doesnt have a cylinder value then her diopter strength would be the sphere value. So it would be Right: +6.5 and Left +7.5. Below is a link to our positive prescription goggles. If you have any questions please feel free to let us know. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/sporti-antifog-positive-optical-goggle-29800/?color=28904
Felicia
4 weeks ago.
Hi

My degree is :

Right: 600
Left 525

I'm wearing contact lenses and which to purchase prescription goggle.
May i know what degree should i choose?


Thks
Swimoutlet.com
4 weeks ago.
Hi Felicia,

Are those your spherical values? I would recommend that you contact your optometrist if you are not sure. They can easily contact your diopter strength over the phone. If you have any other questions please feel free to let us know. Have a wonderful day!
Max
4 weeks ago.
What diopters do I need for my goggles?

OD -3.50 cylinder -1.75 axis 166
OS -3.50 cylinder -1.75 axis 016

Thanks for your help.
SwimOutlet.com
4 weeks ago.
Hi Max,

Your diopter strength for both eyes is -4.3. Since your diopter falls inbetween, you will want to go with a -4.0 pair. Feel free to contact us with any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
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