Prescription Swimming Goggles: Do They Actually Work?


It took me 28 years of my life to figure out that swimming prescription goggles existed! Would I be a better swimmer if I knew that earlier? Probably, but what I know for sure is that I enjoy swimming much more since I bought a pair.

Prescription swimming goggles consist of two corrected lenses and a standard goggle frame. At a reasonable price of $50, it allows swimmers and triathletes to have a better vision of their environment. You can buy those goggles as a set with a predefined correction for both eyes, or buy each element separately if you need lenses with different diopters.

After using them for several years, here are my thoughts about them.

Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.

PROS AND CONS OF PRESCRIPTION GOGGLES FOR TRIATHLETES

PROS

  • Better sighting: To this day, it is still the best triathlon gear I bought. It completely changed how I approach swim training, and the difference is even bigger during triathlon events.
  • Easier to find your bike during the transition: If you have done a triathlon without prescription goggles, you know what I am talking about 😀
  • Low price point: Once I learned they existed, I expected something in the $150-$200 range. The first pair I bought was $70, and now I am currently paying around $50.

CONS

  • You might look weird wearing them outside of the water: When the race briefing is right before the start of the triathlon, I need to wear my goggles to see what the race director actually shows. My wife used to make fun of me 😉 The same goes for the first transition. You still want to keep them on until you reach your transition bag with your standard glasses.

HOW TO BUY SWIMMING PRESCRIPTION GOGGLES

The main problem with buying a pair is that there is no way to try them on in most cases. I have never found a shop that had some models in stock. However, all pairs I bought were fitting me perfectly.

There are three ways to buy prescription goggles:

  1. Buy the swimming goggles with a fixed diopter. It naturally works only if you have the same diopter on both eyes.
  2. Customize the swimming goggles when buying
  3. Buy swimming goggles (obviously compatible with prescription lenses) and buy two separate lenses.

WHICH DIOPTER TO BUY

I have seen lenses going from -1,5 to -10 in 0,5 increments. If you don’t know which strength you have, I recommend going to an optical shop and taking a measurement there.

In case you are between two strengths, the general recommendation is to go down to reduce strain on your eyes. Example: pick -1.5 if your prescription is -1.75.

MY CURRENT GOGGLES

I personally bought a pair and changed the lenses separately. Here are the ones I am using currently. I have not had any special issues worth mentioning.

Aqua Sphere Eagle Goggles (Wiggle affiliate link)

Aqua Sphere Eagle Lens (Wiggle affiliate link)

And here is a video from simplyswim on how to change the lenses:

CAN CHILDREN USE PRESCRIPTION GOGGLES

I had no idea when children can start using swimming prescription goggles, so my wife Anna went to an optical shop and asked. It was quite funny how confused the optician was when he saw our 6 months old daughter with Anna 🙂 

After checking with three of his colleagues, here is his answer: “Children prescription goggles exist, and there is no specific age limitation. The child should be old enough that he can swim and needs prescription lenses”. It is also possible to have different strengths on each lens.

ALTERNATIVE TO SWIMMING PRESCRIPTION GOGGLES

Having prescription goggles is fantastic, and I am still using them every time I go to the pool. I have done a couple of triathlons with them without any issue. Of course, it looks kind of weird to have the goggles on during the race briefing and the entire transition, but I can live with that 🙂

An excellent alternative to consider is to wear contact lenses. The choice is way wider and cheaper (no need for prescription sunglasses for biking and running). The problem with contact lenses is to be able to support them. I have tried 5-6 models over the years, some monthly ones, some daily ones, and finally found some that seem to work for my eyes.

It doesn’t matter if you take prescription goggles or contact lenses at the end of the day. In both cases, you will enjoy swimming considerably more!

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