Water in the face? That's part of surfing. And even then, you most likely won't wear goggles...
Can You Surf with Goggles or Glasses?
Goggles are pretty dang common when it comes to the ocean & water sports. I mean, they're one of those things I always bring to the beach with my kids, and I've never complained about having them in the backpack when the waves are flat and big blue calls for a snorkel sesh instead.
But for surfers, goggles aren't typically a part of their surf equipment checklist. It's the one ocean-based activity where the majority agrees no goggles are needed. But with saltwater causing dry, red, itchy, and burning eyes, wouldn't it make sense to surf with goggles? Or really, can you surf with goggles at all?
And what about surfing with glasses?!
If you're learning how to surf, don't let a fear of saltwater or the need for sight assistance stop you. Here's everything you need to know, my radical folk!
Surfing with Goggles: Yes or No?
Although most surfers don't surf with goggles, technically, you totally can. That said, I'll reiterate that it isn't common, and with surf culture holding onto its roots pretty hard, there's a decent chance you'll receive a few stares or chuckles in the lineup.
But, if you're teaching a grom how to surf, and they're afraid of a little salt water in the eyes, goggles are a great way to negate this until they naturally become accustomed.
Or, if you simply feel better about the surfing experience while wearing them yourself, then you do you!
If you can surf with goggles, but most (as in like 99% of) surfers choose not to, why is that? Some pros and cons should shed some light.
The Pros of Surf Goggles
Goggles are great for messing around!
What do you have to gain with a pair of surf goggles? It could be more than you think, although it's still not enough to convince a die-hard surfer to goggle-up before a session. When you arrive at the con section, you'll also realize that many of these pros are negated when the waves get big.
So when going through the pros, remember that they hold true for a small longboard day or a session on the stand-up paddleboard...
But not so much for a considerable day of waves. And again, for an intimidated surf kid, they might help.
One last thing. When talking of surf goggles, this can mean any type of goggle, but we're also talking about those that lean more towards the side of surf glasses, too.
1. Eye Protection
This is the single most prominent reason a surfer would wear goggles while surfing. The ocean is harsh on the eyes, and goggles help prevent many of these discomforting side effects, like:
2. Sun Protection
Eyes get sunburnt, and it sucks when they do. And considering surfers stare directly out to sea, straight towards a rising sun, it's common enough.
But with the right pair of surf goggles, you can help protect your eyes from harsh UV rays, as this is the only form of eye protection achievable when surfing. Goggles are essentially sunglasses.
If you have sensitive eyes and wish to protect their longevity to the greatest extent, a pair of sun-surf goggles is the answer.
3. Salt Protection
When saltwater gets into the eyes, it dries them out, turns them red, and makes them itchy. Many people don't like this feeling, and when you're surfing, you get plenty of water in the eyes. Of course, the only way to totally prevent salt from getting in the eyes is with goggles.
I do have to mention, however, that the more you surf, the more you become used to the sensation of salt water in the eyes and the less it affects you. By wearing goggles, you're really slowing this down, and it might be better to start training your eyes!
4. Bacteria Prevention
The eyes are a common gateway into the body for viruses and other bacteria. And, unfortunately, the water isn't always the cleanest and safest of environments for our bodies.
There's no way to prove the efficacy, but if surf goggles help to prevent water from getting into the eyes, in doing so, they're also lessening the chance of bacteria getting into them. Or so at least you'd like to think!
5. Less Splash
It's so common for water to get in the eyes when popping up on your surfboard, especially if there is a bit of offshore wind spraying it directly at the face. And it often doesn't stop when riding a wave, as all sorts of water is moving and splashing around. Sometimes, it takes work to wipe the eyes and visualize the next section mid-ride!!
Again, most surfers choose to deal with this, but if you're tired of some offshore spray slapping the eyeballs, then surf goggles might help.
6. You Can See Underwater!
Surfers don't spend much time underwater, aside from when they bail or duck dive. That said, a little bit of underwater vision could totally help you out!
Many surfers keep their eyes open while duck diving to know when to pop out the back, but by doing so, they get a ton of water pushed into the eyes. Goggles can help during duck dives, as you can clearly see the wave and where to exit.
They also come in handy by allowing you to visualize the seafloor better and, depending on what type of surf break you're surfing, identify certain hazards that others might not see.
The Cons of Surfing With Goggles
There are some respectable pros to surfing with goggles, but at the end of the day, they're heavily outweighed by the cons.
Here's why most surfers don't surf with goggles and why you probably won't, too.
1. Headache Action
If you're going to wear goggles while surfing, then they'll need to be tight. With this, they will start to hurt after a while, and the tight strap and associated pressure are certain to give you a headache.
Overall, goggles are one of the least comfortable things you can wear while surfing.
2. Eye Pressure
Surf goggles must maintain pressure against the eye area to keep water out. This pressure is super uncomfortable; it'll leave red rings around the eyeballs and contribute to that nasty headache. Eye squeeze can also lead to long-term damage to the eyes, which makes one question whether the benefits of wearing surf goggles are worth it at all…
3. They Probably Won't Work
Do you realize how much power is in a wave? If you're surfing in considerable wave conditions, I can guarantee your surf goggles won't work. Unless it's a two-foot-longboard day, water is all but sure to get inside of them, as honestly, there's no stopping the force of nature.
Then, you'll spend more time getting water out of the goggles than they do keeping water out. You've got to ask yourself if it's worth it when all the pros of surf goggles get washed away to sea!
4. There is a Negative Stigma
Listen, I'm all about breaking stigmas and living life on your own terms. Who the hell cares what people think!!
But, some people do care about their perception, and when it comes to surfers, this is particularly true. If you don't want to be judged and face the immediate label of 'kook', don't wear the goggles.
If you couldn't care less, which you shouldn't at the end of the day, then keep those bad boys on and surf your heart out.
5. You'll Probably Lose Them
Bringing us back to wave size and power, chances are, you'll lose your surf goggles during a big swell. Waste of money, and a little extra trash floating around the water…
Keep that in mind.
6. You Won't See Well
Goggles are meant to help you see underwater. Surfing, however, is an above-water sport!
With hazy, foggy lenses a more-than-common occurrence, goggles will hinder sight more than they will help. Sure, they might be good for preventing splashing water, but overall, surf goggles don't make you see any better above water. Surf glasses are a much better call.
Can You Surf With Prescription Glasses?
You've probably realized that goggles aren't the best call while surfing. But what if you wear glasses on land and need sight assistance while surfing to see + read the waves?
The good news is that, yes, you can surf with prescription lenses in your surf glasses. Note that there are significant differences between goggles and surf glasses, however.
Surf glasses typically don't fit snugly around the eyes to see underwater, as that's not their intention. This helps negate some of the cons of goggles, like water getting stuck or foggy lenses.
That said, big waves have a good chance of ripping them off and stealing them away. And you'll definitely deal with a few added annoyances. But with the right pair of good, tight, and comfortable surf glasses and the ideal conditions, perfect sight is often worth the added sacrifice.
What About Surfing With Contact Lenses?
Let's keep this simple. The risk of losing your eyesight probably isn't worth swimming or surfing with contact lenses. And when you do such a thing, you run that risk, albeit small.
Can you surf with contact lenses? Yes.
Should you surf with contact lenses? Definitely not.
It's not worth the risk, and if you really need sight assistance, then my vote goes to prescription surf glasses over contact lenses. I like this blog about surfing with contact lenses, as it provides some insight into what to do to avoid this potential damage if you leave them in while surfing. But overall, it's not the best idea.
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