Can you Surf with Glasses or Contacts? (Useful Tips)

Being able to see whilst surfing is fundamental, and although you don’t need to see every minute detail, it’s important to be able to see what’s going on around you. So, if your visually impaired and looking to catch a few waves you might be wondering what your options are.

It is not recommended to surf with regular prescription glasses, they will likely break and there is a risk of broken glass causing injury, instead wear prescription surf sunglasses. It is not recommended to wear contacts whilst surfing either (although many people do) unless you wear tight fittings goggles over the top.

Vision is a very key aspect of surfing. Not to worry if your face light receptors are not top-notch there are many solutions to keep you seeing 20/20 in and out the water, all of which we’ll cover in this article.

Can you Surf With Glasses?

If we’re talking regular prescription glasses – you can but it would be a really, really bad decision.

Prescription glasses by their very nature are not designed to withstand the impact of wipeouts, they will likely break and the worst-case scenario is having a face full of glass and some really messed up eyes. And if your board hits you in the face with your glasses on, again it’s just a risk not worth taking. Fortunately it not a risk you need to take, and there are some great alternatives out there.

Firstly thou, if your eyesight isn’t too bad without glasses then just see how you get on without any additional measures. You don’t need to see perfectly. However, if you’re a beginner and struggle without glasses or contacts, it’s going to stunt your learning and make life more difficult.

Personally, I like to be able to see clearly and protect my eyes from the sun whilst surfing and so I’d recommend investing in a pair of prescription surf sunglasses.

Prescription Surf Sunglasses

There are many sports glasses producers who make strong form-fitting prescription lenses and frames that can take a beating. They are safe and wipeout resistant.

The great thing about this option is that you can use them out of the water as well for all extreme activities. SilverFish and SeaSpecs are the leaders in surfing and water sports optometry and are the most popular among visually impaired shredders.

These types of surf sunglasses are designed specifically to perform in pounding surf, with duck diving not being an issue. Glasses come with a removable leash also. and all Silverfish sunglasses shield 100% of UVB and UVA sunlight.

Silverfish Surf Sunglasses

Can You Surf with Contacts?

The U.S. FDA and British Contact Lense Association clearly state that you should not wear contact lenses in the ocean unless you wear tight-fitting goggles over the top.

“Remove your contact lenses before swimming. There is a risk of eye infection from bacteria in swimming pool water, hot tubs, lakes and the ocean”

However, there are many surfers out there who do surf with contacts… there’s some strong arguments why you shouldn’t, and ultimately it will be down to your judgement

Why you shouldn’t surf with contacts:

  • There’s a strong possibility you’ll lose a contact lens (maybe both).
  • Sand can get between your eye and contact lens, causing irritation and potentially long-lasting damage to your sight.
  • Lenses could potentially fold over and damage your eye.
  • Microbes and bacteria can get under your lenses, cause eye infection and even permanent blindness.

Some tips should you still decide to surf with contacts:

  • After surfing remove lenses and rinse eyes
  • Try smaller contacts, ask your optician if they can reduce the diameter
  • Use daily disposable ones to help reduce the risk of infection
  • Don’t surf in contaminated waters
  • Don’t rub your eyes in the ocean
  • Close your eyes when underwater
  • If issues arise, see your doctor

Disclaimer: To be on the safe side I’d go with the glasses, wear contacts at your own risk.

Can you Surf with Sunglasses?

Surfing can be a very sunny sport. Very sunny. If you are surfing at sunrise on the west coast you will have the sun in your eyes while riding waves in and it will be in your eyes while you’re looking out to sea waiting for waves at sunset. The opposite applies to the east coast. Well no matter where you are on this glorious planet getting the sun in your eyes hurts.

So can you surf with sunglasses on? The answer is yes. Yes, you can. Many people do surf with a hat and sunglasses just for extra sun protection. Again like surfing with prescription glasses the key here is getting a pair that are designed for surfing and not losing them. If you’re going to surf with regular sunglasses check out the video below for some useful tips.

If your eyes are very sensitive to the sun it can be extremely necessary to surf with sunglasses. As previously mentioned, there are many sunglasses specifically made for surfing. They are more form-fitting with an elastic band to hold them securely to your head.

Surfing with Sunglasses

 Can you Surf with Swimming Goggles?

Yes you can. Technically you can. Technically you can surf in anything if you’re brave enough.  But I’m not going to sugar coat this, you’ll just be the kook of the century. It would be just as weird as doing anything that’s not swimming in swimming goggles. Just because surfings is also in water doesn’t make it right. Your average surfer would be just as taken back as you would be if you saw someone walking around the grocery store in swimming goggles.

So for me really that’s a hard no. Don’t do it, save yourself the trouble. I can’t see any actual benefit from surfing in goggles. Besides that it would be fun to swim around underwater and look at stuff in between sets, but even then just keep ’em in your pocket or something.

Prescription Surf Goggles

They do sell prescription surfing goggles if you need them. If you’re looking for a pair or just interested check out these bad boys from Sportsviz. I haven’t tried these so can’t vouch for them personally but other users have given positive feedback using them in smaller surf, they are watertight and you’ll be able to see clearly underwater.

If you’re going to buy goggles it’s important to make sure they fit snugly around your head so no water gets in. They are sold with common prescription strengths. And for you contact users out there they do reduce the risk of eye infection. Again, you might get some funny looks, but you’ll be seeing underwater, who laughing now?

Can you Surf in a Hat?

Yes surfing in hats is great. Of all the different head gear we’ve talked about today I’d say a hat is the best option. They are cheap and easily replaceable. They are also the easiest to safely secure to your head with drawstrings and such.

Hats give you great sun protection. Both from your face burning and it going in your eyes. Blocking that glare can make a big difference when spotting a wave in the far distance. And that sometimes can be make or break when it comes to a fun ride or a wipe out.

There are many different hats to choose from. From your classic baseball hat to your all around sun hat. Many companies make hats specifically for surfing with a few different ways of securing them to your and different levels of uv protection.

My favorite hat to surf in is the circular safari style. You get all around coverage so your face and neck don’t get burned. Also these hats almost always come equipped with a drawstring ensuring the hat won’t come off during wipeouts.

Another bonus of the hat is that for the most part they float. This means if you fall and your hat does come off you’re not at a total loss. You will find it either floating somewhere near you, or if you’re really lucky washed up on shore later on. Hats rock.

FCS makes a great specifically for surfing. It fits nice and snug, no worries of losing it and blocks the sun like a champ.