Appeared in DIVER July 2006

MASKSBeuchat X-Contact
I dont know who said it, but I readily agree with the sentiment. I know that a lot of Diver readers are sympathetic. The fact is that most divers are either both young and penniless, or their children have flown the nest, leaving them with enough money to spend on diving the way they want to.
It means that a great many of those I meet on dive trips have grey hair, and SAGA is missing a trick by not selling diving holidays.
Time is not kind. A touch of deafness may be convenient but long-sightedness is not. They say there are two types of men over 40: those who wear glasses and those who dont read books.
That said, I find it strange that diving equipment manufacturers so often offer masks with optical lenses in negative strengths to suit young nearsighted people.
They rarely offer an optical solution to those with plenty of disposable income - that is, an income no longer compromised by expensive mortgages and demanding offspring - but whose arms have grown too short to allow them to read a newspaper.
It was a refreshing change to be sent a mask by Beuchat, because the first question it asked before despatching it was about the lenses I wanted supplied with it. To my surprise my contact didnt bat an eyelid when I suggested plus-2.5 dioptres strength, and the X-Contact mask so fitted duly arrived.
Perhaps the difference is that the skirt of the mask bore the legend Made in the EEC, and the French manufacturer has spotted that all those elderly millionaires entering the casino at Monaco are blind as bats without their specs.
I was able to try the mask immediately, without having to send it off to have some cola-bottle bottoms glued inside the front glasses.
The X-Contact mask is otherwise fairly conventional. It has a flat front frame and pivoting buckles, with a strap that is easy to thread through them.
The internal volume is small, resulting in complete clearing with little more than a considered sneeze, and the lenses are positioned close to the eyes, though their slight teardrop shape does not allow as much downward vision as some other bigger masks now available.
Because the glasses are actually lenses, and do not have lenses bonded to them, the weight of the mask was less than I have become used to.Well done, Beuchat. Other optically challenged divers, apply here!
The Beuchat X-Contact mask costs£40 with plus-1 to plus-4 optical lenses each£22 extra. Of course, Beuchat accommodates near-sighted people too. Minus-1 to minus-9 dioptre lenses each cost£24 extra.
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    - Lenses make a mask costly, and you will need a spare