Inexpensive & Effective
Vision-correcting DGX Gauge Reader Masks
If you are grappling with the close-up vision limitations of being a mature diver, there is an inexpensive and effective solution for your older eyes underwater. Check out the DGX Gears Rio Gauge Reader Mask from Dive Gear Express. UPDATE: Comparing DGX Gears Ren v. Rio gauge reader masks.
The time had finally come. Reading instructor slates—let alone the beloved Shearwater Perdix AI (in spite of its big and bright display)—had become too difficult for these 60-something year-old eyes. Similarly-aged dive buddies had nothing good to say about stick-on reader lenses, and custom-built prescription scuba masks seemed unreasonably expensive, so the decision was to just deal with it… until it became impossible to do so.
Stumbling upon vision correcting masks at Dive Gear Express (https://www.divegearexpress.com/) was a fluke. The real shopping mission was to purchase long, double-braided flex hoses. Being a past DGX customer, I felt comfortable with the quality of their gear portfolio and am regularly pleased with pricing, so I examined their mask offerings closely.
It didn’t take long to review their line of corrective vision masks and settle in on the DGX Gears Rio Gauge Reader Mask. The term “gauge reader” escaped me until I wore the mask underwater. Just like DGX states, the corrective lenses allow you to “read your SPG but offers clear sight at distances.” In other words, you won't be reading a novel underwater with this lens design, but a glance at a gauge or computer is what they are designed for. Indeed, the corrective portions of the mask lenses have a distinctively low profile, which is contrary to most stick-on lenses that tend to distort distance vision and is a chief complaint among new users.
How does the Rio work? Quite well actually. The lenses are all-but-unnoticeable during regular viewing of distant objects. When it’s time to focus on a computer screen, gauge, or recite from instructor slates, a downwards glance brings the formerly fuzzy digits of my Perdix and my backup SPG into crisp focus. Instructional slate reading? I found using a single eye (focusing downward and outward) works best, but that might change with additional use and experience. The mask fit is comfortable for my larger face. And with a price of $49.95 (as of this writing), the mask is a reasonable deal, corrective lenses or not.
Get to Know Dive Gear Express
If you are not familiar with Dive Gear Express, you should be. DGX offers good products at exceptional price points.* They also have some great “Tek Tips” throughout their site, including on the Rio Gauge Reader Mask product page, where the company discusses how to order the right prescription lenses at length. (Ever wonder if a black dive mask is best? They have a Tek Tip on that too!)
Finally, if you are getting out your scrounging up a cigarette lighter, toothpaste or Soft Scrub in anticipation of “prepping” your new DGX mask, think again and review the DGX warning here. Just like the company says, you won’t have any problems with mask fogging with a simple rinse of baby shampoo or other defogging agent before your dive, so no "mask prepping" required.
Update: DGX Gears Ren v. DGX Gear Rio Gauge Reader Masks
If you visit the DGX vision correcting masks webpage, understand there are two types of masks available for purchase: "vision correcting" masks and "gauge reader" masks. "Gauge reader" masks are discussed here; "vision correcting" masks are more like conventional eyeglasses with their entire lens corrected for vision.
The descriptions of each gauge reader mask is available on the product webpage. As written by Dive Gear Express, the Ren is designed to fit "narrow and standard faces," while the Rio "fits most medium to wide faces." We purchased both masks for a side-by-side comparison (click images to enlarge view):
The Rio fits medium/large faces while the Ren fits smaller/narrower faces
The nose pocket on the Ren is smaller than the Rio.
Overall width of the masks are similar.
Skirting of the Ren is slightly larger than the Rio.
Water volume comparison: Rio holds <1/8 cup more than the Ren.
Masks straps appear to be identical.
Mask buckles look identical. They operate easily allowing for quick adjustments and provide a firm grip of the strap.
* ATA/BAR DIVERS are not compensated spokespersons for DGX. We are just happy customers.