Choosing prescription swim goggles
What are prescription swim goggles?
Prescription swim goggles are swimming goggles that correct for refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism while you swim. You can buy premade or custom prescription goggles for swimming.
Do I need prescription swimming goggles?
If you’re an avid swimmer and you have trouble seeing without your glasses or contacts, you may want to consider prescription swimming goggles.
Benefits of prescription swim goggles
Prescription swim goggles protect your eyes from chlorine, water and microbes while offering vision correction in a range of strengths. Benefits include:
Premade and custom ordering options
Ability to customize lens tints and coatings
Wide range of prescription strengths available
Some allow prescription lenses to be swapped out
Perhaps most importantly, prescription goggles make it possible for swimmers who need vision correction to see clearly during a swim.
Can I just swim with contact lenses instead?
If you need prescription lenses to see clearly, you may be tempted to just wear your contacts in the water without any goggles.
But keep in mind that swimming with contacts poses risks to your eye health. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) states that you should always remove contacts before swimming and should never expose them to any type of water. This includes a pool, lake, ocean or tap water.
READ MORE: Why you should avoid swimming with pink eye
Cost and coverage for prescription swim goggles
The price of prescription swim goggles often depends mostly on the type you get: premade or custom. Premade, or step-diopter, prescription swimming goggles are similar to reading glasses. Since premade lenses only have certain strengths available, you pick the prescription strength or power that is closest to your actual prescription.
While they are more popular and less expensive, they aren’t for everyone. If you have a complex prescription or astigmatism, or you need a different-strength prescription in each eye, premade prescription swim goggles may not work for you.
Custom prescription swim goggles are custom-made according to your exact prescription. They cost more and take longer to make but the end result is a higher-quality product designed to allow you to see and perform at your best.
How much do prescription swimming goggles cost?
Starting prices for premade prescription swim goggles typically range from around $10 to $150, increasing when you select the prescription strength of your lenses.
Custom swimming goggles can cost $200 to $600 or more, depending on the brand, style, lens tint, prescription strength and extras you choose.
Extras that can increase the cost of custom prescription swimming goggles include:
Lens tint can add $30 or more
Lens polarization can add $100 or more
Transitions lenses can add $120 or more
Anti-fog, -scratch or -reflective coating can add $30 to $50 or more
High prescription strength can add $5 to $20 or more
So you might pay just under $200 for basic custom prescription swim goggles with clear lenses and no extras. Or you could pay almost $400 for custom prescription swim goggles with photochromic (Transitions) lenses, anti-fog and anti-scratch coating and a high prescription. And you could easily pay $600 or more for high-end custom swim goggles with progressive lenses and extras.
Are prescription swim goggles worth the cost?
Before you invest in a pricey pair of custom prescription swim goggles, you may wonder if they're worth it. That answer will vary based on your situation.
Consider factors such as:
How much vision correction you need
How your refractive error impacts your swimming (competitiveness, enjoyment, safety, etc.)
How often you swim and how much you'll use the prescription goggles
How large of a budget you have to spend on the goggles
If you decide the cost of custom prescription swim goggles isn't worth it, you may want to try cheaper premade prescription swim goggles instead.
Does vision insurance cover prescription swim goggles?
Vision insurance may cover prescription swimming goggles. Coverage varies by company and plan, so you need to check with your provider. Most vision insurance plans offer an annual allowance for frames with prescription lenses or contact lenses. If they do cover prescription swim goggles, you may not be able to get coverage for glasses or contacts in the same year.
We contacted VSP, one of the largest U.S. vision insurance providers, and got this information: "VSP members with applicable benefits can use their lens coverage for prescription lens adapters or inserts for various sports goggles, including diving/swim masks. Depending on coverage and lenses selected, applicable lens enhancement copays may apply."
You may be able to use your health savings account (HSA) or your flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for prescription swimming goggles in some cases. Check with your plan provider to be sure.
READ MORE: FSA and HSA Vision Resources
Shopping for prescription swim goggles for adults and kids
Where can I get prescription swim goggles made?
If you want custom-made prescription goggles, you can go to:
Your eye doctor
An optical shop
An online retailer of prescription swim goggles
In order to get prescription goggles, also known as prescription swimming glasses, you'll need to get a copy of your current glasses prescription. If you don't have a current prescription, see your eye doctor.
How long it takes to get prescription swim goggles
If you order premade prescription goggles for swimming, you could get them as quickly as a day or two later depending on the shipping speed you choose.
If you order custom prescription swimming goggles, you need to count on time for them to be made just like glasses. So they can take a week to two weeks or longer to arrive, depending on the type of shipping.
Is there a prescription strength limit for swim goggles?
For ready-made swim goggles, available prescription strength varies based on brand and style, but some swim goggles are available in up to +/-10.00. However, custom swim goggles can be made in just about any prescription. You can get progressive lenses and even correct for some astigmatism.
Can you get prescription smart swim goggles?
Smart swim goggles are relatively new technology that allows swimmers to track their training metrics in front of their eyes on a screen on the goggles’ lenses. There are two main brands of smart swim goggles available now, FORM and Finis. At this time, their smart swim goggles are not available as prescription goggles.
Ready to buy?
If you’re considering prescription swim goggles, talk to your eye doctor about your options. They can help you find the right brand, fit and features for your needs, and they may be able to place an order for you.
Focusing on contact lens safety. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. October 2019.
Acanthamoeba keratitis FAQs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 2010.
Choosing the right prescription. Prescription Swimming Goggles. Accessed August 2022.
Smart goggle FAQ. Finis. Accessed August 2022.
Can I use the goggles if I need vision correction? FORM. Accessed August 2022.
How to choose prescription swim goggles: Pre-made vs custom goggles. A Sight for Sport Eyes. April 2021.
Page published on Tuesday, October 18, 2022