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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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Erica
2 days ago.
I want to make sure I order the correct ones...

R- SPH.(-1 72) CYL (-0.50) AXIS (040)
L- SPH (-2.25) CYL (SPH) AXIS (blank)
Courtney Dickey
2 days ago.
I am so confused,
my O.D sphere is -2.50, cylinder is +.75, axis 90
my O.S sphere is -1.75, cylinder is +.75, axis 105
I got a result of -2.125 and -1.375.
Did I do these calculations right? I do not want to order the wrong pair.
Linda Mcguire
2 days ago.
I am totally confused by my prescription and would really appreciate your assistance.
Rx:
O.D. -75-175 x 90 / add
O.S. -100-150 x 85 / 225
SwimOutlet.com
2 days ago.
Hi Linda,

It looks like your diopter strength would be -8.3 & either -11.5 or -1.75. Its hard to tell since the decimals are not noted on your prescription. I would recommend that you contact your optometrist to get your correct diopter strength. Usually the nurses are able to calculate if for you right away. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Sue
2 days ago.
Help! No idea how to read my prescription. And I have astigmatism. Am I still a candidate for these goggles?
OD 8.6 (-5.50 -1.25 x 10)
OS 8.6 (-5.00 -1.25 x 170)
Thank you!
SwimOutlet.com
2 days ago.
Hi Sue,

The prescription goggles that we carry do not correct astigmatism. I would recommend that you contact your optometrist for that. Your diopter strength looks like it will be -6.1 & -5.6. I hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to contact us if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
Tina
4 days ago.
(SPH) (CYL) Axis
OD RIGHT -1.75 -0.75 160
OS LEFT. -3.25 -1.00 163
WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Swimoutlet.com
3 days ago.
Hi Tina,

Your diopter strength is -2.1 & -3.7. You can go with either one pair at -2.0 or 2 pairs (one in -2.0 & one in -3.5) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Jerry
2 weeks ago.
Need help calculating my diopter:
OD: -7.25 125 x 180
OS : - 700 125 X 155

My mother called my doctor but I'm not sure if she wrote it down right.
Swimoutlet.com
4 days ago.
Hi Jerry,

Since your sphere and cylinder values are not clearly marked, I'm guessing that your spheres are -7.25 and -7 and your cylinder values are 1.25. Then your diopter strength would be -6.6 & -6.3. This is just a guess since your numbers are not clarified. I would recommend that you double check with your optometrist to make sure. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Alana
2 weeks ago.
Hi,

I need help in deciding if to buy prescription goggles or to go with the ready made diopter lenses. My prescription is:

OD -8.00 Sphere. -0.75 Cylinder Axis 90
OS -4.75 Sphere. -2.25 Cylinder Axis 90
Thanks.
Swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Alana,

Your diopter strength is -8.3 & -5.8. You can go with either one. If you go with prescription goggles then you would either go with just one pair in -5.5 or get 2 pairs (one in -5.5 and one in -8.0) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Tracey
2 weeks ago.
Hi my eye doctor gave me this:

OD-4.00-D.25X5 and
OS-3.75-D.25X10

How do I know what lens to get from that?

Thannks so mcuh
Marla
3 weeks ago.
Hi, I wear progressive lenses. Top for distance, bottom for reading. Mid range is very useful. Which prescription should I ask for from my optometrist. At most the pool I swim in is 9 - 12 feet deep, but lap lanes are 4 - 6 feet deep. I don't wear a watch while swimming and would like to see the clock! Thank you for any recommendations.
SwimOutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi Marla,

The prescription goggles we have are not progressive. The ones with the negative diopter strengths are for distance. So you should ask your optometrist for your top prescription. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Anthony
3 weeks ago.
Hello I am completely new to swimming and currently enrolled in lessons. My first class is in a few weeks and I am excited. I am really new to all this and I was wondering if you could help me with the calculations so I don't mess up my purchase. My OD sphere is -2.25, cylinder is -1.50 and axis is 175 while my OS sphere is -2.50, cylinder is -1.25 with a axis of 020 thank you for any help.
Swimoutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi Anthony,

Welcome to the world of swimming! We would be happy to assist you with any questions you have about swimming gear.

Your diopter strength for your goggles would be: -3 & -3.1. Since your diopters are very close, a -3 pair prescription goggles would work for you. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Alex
4 weeks ago.
Hello,

OD Sphere -3.50 Cylinder -1.50 Axis 177
OS Sphere -3.50 Cylinder -0.75 Axis 175

Diopters strength -4.25 OD and -3.875 OS.

Should I purchase a -4.0 or -3.5 Diopter both both eyes? Thanks very much
swimoutlet.com
4 weeks ago.
Hi Alex,

You would want to get either one pair 3.5 or for 2 pairs you would get a -4.0 or -3.5 and interchange the eyepieces for 2 custom pairs. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Deborah
4 weeks ago.
Please inform me my diopler calculation for the prescription:
O.D. Sphere - 500 / Cylinder -100
O.S. Sphere -475 / Cyliner -200
swimoutlet.com
4 weeks ago.
Hi Deborah,

Your diopter strength is -5.5 & -5.75. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Nasrin
5 weeks ago.
Hi I am trying to get my swim goggles but I can't figuer out the calculation please can you helep me with this matter,my prescription reads like this,
Right eye -5.50 -0.25 x135
Left eye -6.00
Best Regards
Nasrin
Swimoutlet.com
5 weeks ago.
Hi Nasrin,

Since you do not have a cylinder value, I would recommend that you contact your optometrist to get the diopter strength. Usually they can just calculate it over the phone for you. If you have any other questions please feel free to let us know. Have a wonderful day!
Shelley
1 month ago.
Hi there and thank you for providing this service.
Please calculate the proper strength for my swim goggles.

My prescription details are:
RT eye Sphere -7.75 Cyl +0.50 Axis 103
LT eye Sphere -7.50 Cyl +1.00 Axis 087

Thank you very much!
SwimOutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Shelley,

Your diopter strength would be -7.5 & -7. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Jessica
1 month ago.
Hi there, I am trying to buy some Rx swim goggles and Im not sure how to go about this. My Rx is:
OD - Right-sphere -7.00 cyl -0.75 axis 180
OS - Left sphere -7.75- cyl- 1.25 axis 165
From what I gather that should mean that i need a 7.5 for one eye and an 8.5 for the other? I saw in a previous comment that you can buy two pairs and swap out the lenses to make a custom pair - is there a walkthrough on your site on how to do that? Thank you!
Jessica
1 month ago.
Hi there!

I am wanting to purchase a pair of Rx swim goggles but have very bad eyes. If I've done the math correctly I would need a 7.5 for one eye and an 8.5 for another. I saw mentioned in an earlier comment that you can buy two pairs and swap out lenses to create a custom pair. Is there a walkthrough for this somewhere on your site? Also do you have goggles that go up to 8.5?? Thank you so much!!
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Jessica,

That is correct! You can buy 2 pairs and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. We do not have a video that specifically shows this. We do have one (the link is below) that shows how to thread in replacement straps which should help a bit. You would just need to pop off the nose piece, unthread the eye pieces, switch the eye pieces, and then thread the straps back on. We unfortunately do not have any that go up to 8.5. The highest we have is 8.0. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XU6S4E1SEXQ
Rachel
1 month ago.
Hi,
Could you tell me what prescription goggles I should get for my two kids?
1.
Left Eye: -4.75, Cylinder: -.50, Axis: 008
Right Eye: -5, Cylinder: -.25, Axis: 027
2.
Left Eye: -4, Cylinder: -25, Axis: 007
Right Eye: -3.75, Cylinder: -.5, Axis: 163

Thank you.
Rachel
SwimOutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Rachel,

We would be happy to assist you with that! For 1 the diopter strength is -5 (L) and -5.1 (R). For 2 the diopter strength is -4.1 (L) and -4 (R). Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Lauren
1 month ago.
Hi. Trying to decipher my prescription for Goggles. This is what the Doctor wrote:
OD - 4.50 -100x105 +1.75
OS - 5.75 - 1.50x065

Suggestions?
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Lauren,

Since the sphere and cylinder values are not clearly noted, I'm assuming spheres are -4.5 and -5.75 and your cylinders are -1.0 & -1.5. Then your diopter strength would be -5 & -6.5. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
Ujjwal
1 month ago.
I am trying to get my swim googles, my glass prescription is:
OD: -5.50 Cyl: -0.75 Axis: 20
OS: -5.50 Cyl: -1.00 Axis: 165
Which dipoter swim googles should I get?
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Ujjwal,

Your diopter strength is -5.8 & -6. You can either get one pair in -5.5 or 2 pairs (one in -5.5 and one in -6) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Vijay Naik
1 month ago.
Could you tell me what strength I need for swim goggles...and if you have any that would work for me. Thanks!
Rt: Spherical +1.75, Left: Spherical +1.50
I could not open the sight you have mentioned:
http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/sporti-antifog-positive-optical-goggle-29800/?color=10807
Please help
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Vijay,

I would recommend that you contact your optometrist to get your diopter strength since you do not have the cylinder values. They can calculate it over the phone for you. As for the link, if copying it and pasting it into your web browser does not work, you can put in 29800 in the search on our site and it should bring up the Sporti Antifog Positive Optical Goggle. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
gloria
1 month ago.
My rx is
OD +1.50 -4.50 axis 180
OS. +1.25 -4.50 axis 180
What strength should I get
Thanks
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Gloria,

Your diopter strength Im assuming since the cylinder and sphere are not clearly marked is -0.75 & -1. Since your diopters are not that strong, you may be able to get away with just normal goggles. We do not carry any strengths between -2 and +2. You may try a Google search to see if theres any manufacturers that do carry a pair thats close to 0. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a great day!
JDoll
1 month ago.
Hi,

I'm -6.5 for both eyes, this is my contact lens prescription. I only know that my glass power is -6.5 for both eyes, i don't know the breakdown.

Would appreciate it if you could help me this.

Thank you,
Jijiy
SwimOutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Jijiy,

The formula, 1/2 of the cylinder + sphere = diopter strength, calls for the cylinder and sphere value. Unfortunately we cannot get that just based off your contact lens prescription. I would recommend that you contact your optometrist for that information. Feel free to contact us again if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Megha
1 month ago.
My prescription is :
OD: sphere -8.00 cyl +1.00 axis 120
OS: sphere -8.25 cyl + 1.50 axis 65

Can you please advise my diopter strength and any recommendation choosing the swimming googles.

Thank you
Megha
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Megha,

Your diopter strength would be -7.5 for both eyes. The Speedo Vanquisher Optical Goggle and the Sporti Antifog Optical Pro II Goggle are 2 of our most popular ones. Below are links to those. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a great day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/speedo-vanquisher-optical-goggle-7789/?color=30492

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/sporti-antifog-optical-pro-ii-goggle-22390/?color=208
Amy
1 month ago.
The Speedo Vanquisher Optical Swim Goggles, that I purchased from Swim Outlet two years ago, have worked wonderfully for my Daughter. Since she has a new RX, I would greatly appreciate it if you would let me know what her diopter strength is now. Thank you.
-2.0 + 1.50 x 90
-2.25 + 2.00 x 75
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Amy,

Sure! It looks like her diopter strength would be -1.25 for both eyes. Since her prescription is so low, she may be able to get away with just normal goggles. If not then you can check with Speedo or another manufacturer to see if they make the lower strengths. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Chuck in Tampa
1 month ago.
What should I order:

R - Sphere: -125, Cylinder: -200, Axis: 005
L - Sphere: +300, Cylinder: -275, Axis: 177

Thank you
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Chuck,

Your diopter strength would be R: -2.25 and L: +1.6. Your prescription is tricky just because one eye is positive and the other is negative. I would recommend that you check with your optometrist on this. You probably can get 2 pairs of goggles (one in -2.0 and one in +1.5) and interchange the eye pieces for 2 custom pairs. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
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