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MASK Hydro Optix Mega - 4.5d
So, Mr Bantin, I see that you wear glasses. So said the cross-examining lawyer at the inquest. He was trying to destroy my testimony as a material witness. Were you wearing your glasses during the dive
     No.
     Then how could you see anything
     I was wearing my mask.
     A mask may alter your vision while under water, but I find that I can still see clearly, and certainly a lot better than without it. But there is one problem associated with vision through a mask under water, and that is caused by refraction as the light passes from a dense medium, the water, to the less dense medium of the air within it.
     Most divers will know that the refraction of light between the water and the air in the conventional flat-lens mask gives a magnifying effect. It makes things look either bigger or closer, and it also causes tunnel-vision.
     Thats to say, you lose your normal wide angle-of-view. Mind you, we all quickly get used to the drawbacks of using a conventional mask. We grow accustomed to seeing things bigger and we learn to move our heads around to see what were missing on the periphery of our vision.
     Underwater photographers, who use wide-angle lenses, put them behind special dome-shaped ports which put that angle-of-view back to normal. The Hydro Optix Mega -4.5d mask works in exactly the same way. Instead of flat lenses, this mask has two domed lenses.
     A good idea, eh Youd think so, but sadly it isnt!
     Lets go back to what all underwater photographers who use dome ports understand well. The dome port works by producing a virtual image that is optically very close. This means that with most camera lenses you need to fit a supplementary close-focus plus-dioptre lens to get sharp focus.
     Now, my four-year-old may be able to watch TV comfortably with her nose pressed to the screen, but I cant. I cant focus as close as I would like and, as the years go by, that position gets worse. So unless you are already naturally myopic and wear specs with lenses like the bottom of bottles, or have an unusually large range of focus with your eyes, like that of a young child, you will not be able to focus on the view you get with a Mega -4.5d mask.
     The solution is simple, say the men from Hydro Optix. Get special close-focus contact lenses.
     Now, I might have gone along with this mask if it were possible to clip a pair of glasses inside it, but I was told that the reduced angle of view so enforced negated the reason for using the mask in the first place. But you cant just go to Woolworths and buy contact lenses. They need to be prescribed. Its not just a matter of getting a set that lets you see the eye-test chart properly, either.
     There are also people who dont get on with contact lenses. I use a conventional mask with prescription lenses, so the idea of getting contact lenses just so that I could use the mask doesnt appeal. I cant imagine those with otherwise perfect eyesight relishing the idea either.
     And then, what do you do, special contact lenses in place, when you climb the ladder of the boat and pull your mask off The Mega -4.5d mask works, with your special contact lenses, only under water. On the deck of the boat, with the lenses in place, youll find yourself as blind as a bat.
     The men at Hydro Optix have an answer for that too. They supply a nifty pair of afore-described bottle-bottom specs (or a monocle) in a minus-dioptre rating to slip on to counter the effects of the plus-dioptre contact lenses!
     Please! I have enough trouble looking for where I safely stowed my normal specs before I went diving, but at least I have the option of wearing my mask with its prescription lenses while I look for them. If I needed to find this other pair of specs before I could see anything, theres a good chance I might fall over the side before I did.
     So, first, I cant imagine anyone who unfamiliar with using contact lenses getting fitted just to be able to use this mask. Second, the moment you find yourself reduced to disabling blindness as you leave the water, and as you search for where you left your monocle, you will lose interest in any of the visionary benefits you might have discovered during the dive.
     Having rubbished this product, I now stand by for the legions of myopic divers who normally wear strong negative-dioptre specs, and the tiny number of divers with such elastic suspensory ligaments that they never knew that contact lenses were needed, to write to me in protest.
     If you are not already in need of strong negative dioptre lenses (minus 4 to 5) for normal vision, dont bother. Im sorry to say that the hassle of using this product is just too much.
     This is a product looking to cure a problem that in fact barely exists.
The Hydro Optix Mega -4.5d mask with surface eye-wear will set you back around £190.
  • Hydro Optix, www.HydroOptix.com


  • Divernet
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    + Gives a normal angle-of-view under water


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    - Adds two other big problems
    - Expensive